Mission Status Wild

We, ARK Nature and the Friends of Rhodope Cow have the ambition and mission to establish a formal legal- Wild Status for the Konik horses in the Rhodope mountains Bulgaria. This status “Wild” means that the national and regional governments acknowledges the free living Konik horses as actual wild living animals. This means there is no obligation anymore to chip the animals, for annual blood sampling and the formal ownership of the animals will be stopped. In short they will become the same legal-status as red deer, hares, roe deer have. Former owner now acts, observes and controls as wildlife manager.

Why to start here in Bulgaria?

In 2009 ARK nature started together with national and local Bulgarian organisations the New Thracian Gold project. This project (ended in 2014) focussed on nature restoration in the Eastern Rhodopes together with the input of local people in such a way that the local people would benefit from the project’s activities. One result was the introduction of Konik horses in Sbor in 2011 and later in the Boynik area to become part of the Rhodope nature.
The groups of horses thrive very well in the region. They are surviving well in hot and dry summers, they are coping with the thick layers of snow and can cope and repel the attacks by wolves.

But the horses still have a formal owner, being obliged to chip the animals , to count and register the animals, blood sample them etc. This becomes every year more and more difficult, since the animals become/ behave more and more like wildlife wilder and wilder. So catching the animals was and is a very difficult job to do and causing a lot of stress and unrest within the herds. And there is no actual need for this as well.
With ARK’s experience in the Netherlands and other countries in Europe the idea to work on a plan for the realisation of a wild status for wild living horses developed.

The Bulgarian Konik horses proved to be more than fit for surviving in the wild and be an important factor for the natural process of natural grazing. They keep, together with other animals, the area open in a mosaic like landscape providing room and space for more herbs and flowers, insects, birds, reptiles and because of this they create more food for other mammals etc. preserving the rich Rhodope nature.

And last but not least these animals play an important role in the attraction of the Eastern Rhodopes. From the start of the NTG project more and more people, local, national and foreign visitors went for a holiday to the Eastern Rhodopes. More and more Bed & Breakfasts started and other entrepreneurs with wildlife watching etc. The local people became proud of the animals and have fully accepted them and understand and appreciate the value of this animals in a economic and ecological way.
When the Status Wild for these horses will be realised, Bulgaria becomes the first country within the EU, Europe where the status wild has been giving to former domestic animal species.
Bulgaria will get the spotlight on this initiative. Many other countries are already interested in following the steps being made in Bulgaria.
Allowing the Status Wild for Konik will be a positive moment for the whole of Europe and change the way Europeans look at in the wild living horses.
Horses are taken into the heart by many people. They love to see them in full freedom, to observe their natural behaviour. And the expression of their welfare as part of the landscape is unique and has the value of a special safari.
Having the first site with in the wild living horses forms a unique attraction for visitors form all around the world. And the inhabitants of the Eastern Rhodopes will facilitate a hospital stay.

NB the Bulgarian folder about natural grazing should be on the website as well I think.

Mission possible

We believe that Status Wild for the freely roaming horses in the Eastern Rhodopes is a mission possible. Jointly with the regional and municipal authorities, local people and entrepreneurs, scientists and environmentalists, we are working to make it happen.


Hope, you share our passion and support Status Wild.