News, Новини

16 newly born Konik horses this spring in the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria

Good news about the wildlife in the Rhodopes Mountain, Bulgaria!

16 newly born foals increased the herds of the freely living in the wild herds of the Konik horses in the Eastern Rhodopes up to above 70.

The first 12 Koniks have been brought from the Netherlands to the abandoned village of Sbor, Krumovgrad Municipality in 2011. In the autumn of 2013 a second herd of 29 horses was reintroduced in the area of Boynik (Studen Kladenets Hunting Reserve).

The two horse herds have successfully adapted to the Eastern Rhodopes nature dealing with the harsh winters and hot summers, finding food on their own, as well as surviving from wolf attacks. The number of the horses has doubled within a couple of years only!

The freely living horses have a crucially important role for the protection of the nature and biodiversity in the Eastern Rhodopes. Grazing almost all the year around, they are keeping the open landscape of the region. Becoming a tourist attraction, they are gradually turning into the new symbol of the Rhodopes Mountain.

The team of the Status WILD Initiative considers this as an outstanding success of the reintroduction of the freely living horses in the Eastern Rhodopes, which have hosted wild horses in the ancient times.

The Konik horse (Еquus caballos) is a “recovery” / “look- a-like” of the Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus) and also known as the Eurasian wild horse. This is an extinct subspecies of the wild horse and a prehistoric wild horse type that ranged from Southern France and Spain and eastwards to central Russia, as well as once in Bulgaria, which is proven by findings of palaeontologists. The Tarpan got extinct in wild nature in the end of 19th century. A couple of decades later several attempts started to re-create a Tarpan look-a-like through selective breeding with domestic races which allegedly retained much Tarpan DNA in their genomes. This breed, which has been reintroduced in Bulgaria, originates from a Polish Tarpan re-breeding project. It is also known as Konik (Polish for ‘little horse’). Koniks have been successfully reintroduced in the Netherlands, Latvia, the UK, France, Belgium and Germany.

Status WILD team anticipates a development of its idea the Konik horses to be granted with a status, which will allow they to be not anymore treated as domesticated animals. When this happens, Bulgaria would become the first ever country in the EU and across Europe, where former domestic animal species will be declared as freely living /rewilded horses in the wild. Many other countries are already interested in following the steps being made in Bulgaria.