FOUR PAWS conducts areal census of horses
Wild horses in Letea:
In preparation of the anticipated birth control programme, members of the FOUR PAWS vet staff have counted wild horses in the Romanian Danube Delta. In a chartered airplane, the horse experts undertook two aerial counts in order to get a more precise idea of earlier estimates. The census resulted in 641 horses, of which 494 live mainly in Letea and 147 in the forest of Cardon. The local environmental authorities want them removed from the protected area, but FOUR PAWS opposes the plans with supplementary feeding in the wintertime and an upcoming birth control initiative. The mares will be injected with an immune-contraceptive that makes them sterile for the next two or three years.
The occasionally dense vegetation required a recount of the section. Furthermore, there were some newborn foals in the herds, which are easy to overlook, even from a distance of 100m above ground. But overall, the team is convinced that their method was very accurate, using longitudinal transects and reconfirming results among each other.
Cows in the forests
What helped the census was the fact that large parts of the fields are currently flooded, which limits the area where the horses can graze. The team also decided to count the cows living in the marshland. They actually outnumber the horses, with a total of roughly 1200 in the area, either in large groups living outside the forest or smaller groups roaming through the woods. This fact could help protect the horses from interventions on behalf of the authorities, since they are clearly not the only animals endangering the fragile ecosystem. The FOUR PAWS vets on site are confident that the ongoing project will ensure the horses' safety and well-being.