In the mountains of central Sardinia, the Giara horses are at risk again. The total population is estimated at around just 700 horses, and the breed has been considered at risk of extinction since 1971.
Named for the Giara plateau on which they roam, the steep cliffs, difficulty of access and the isolated location have protected the wild horses in recent centuries. Sadly, with a lack of grass and deep puddles formed by the heavy rains that autumn brought the region, food is scarce and some of the horses have been already found dead, although many have been rescued, La Nuova Sardegna reports.
Rainy season on the island began late this year and the plateau has become a largely uncontrolled area when it comes to grazing. Flocks of sheep and herds of goats and cows have invaded the area, consuming much of the available water and food.
Images of the horses in distressing situations have been circulating in the Italian media since the beginning of December, and volunteers have begun campaigns to rescue as many as possible. Officially owned by the city councils of Gesturi, Setzu and Tuili, the horses are now potential victims to Italy's complicated bureaucratic system — and must await the transfer of regional funds.
Photo: Helga Steinreich