In the past few years dozens of horses gallop freely in the Eastern Rhodopes. The beautiful animals are of the Konik breed and are the modern copy of the ancient Tarpan horse known as Eurasian wild horse which became extinct in Europe in the 19th century. Currently, nearly 70 horses of that breed live freely in the Eastern Rhodopes near the Boynik area and the abandoned village of Sbor. This is due to the efforts of a Bulgarian-Dutch team which has been working in recent years to rewild nature in this mountain.
The settlement and the adaptation of the Konik horse in Bulgaria is a continuation of a Polish project for restoration of tarpan-like horses which started back in 1936. The total number of these horses worldwide is nearly 4,000 and half of them live in the Netherlands. In 2011 twelve Polish Konik horses were brought from the Netherlands to Bulgaria for the first time and were released into the wild in the Eastern Rhodopes. The adaptation of these animals was quite successful and two years later a new group of 40 Konik horses was brought to this area. The animals have already fully adapted in the new conditions and manage to survive the hot and dry summer, the cold and snowy winter and the attacks of the predators.
Experts from the Netherlands came up with the proposals that these animals should receive an official status of wild animals. Thus, Bulgaria can become the first country giving a Wild status to horses living in the wild. At the end of February 2018 a movie about the life of the wild horses in the Rhodpoes was shown at the Faculty of Biology at Sofia University Saint Kliment Ohridski. In a public lecture the Dutch eco expert Frank Zanderink presented the benefits of the wild horses for the people and the nature. More from Frank Zanderink from the Dutch Foundation ARK Natuurontwikkelling for Radio Bulgaria of BNR, Bulgarian National Radio:
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