Over 300 Kaimanawa horses are in need of a new home.
The Department of Conservation (DoC) has announced it’ll muster 300 next month to protect the fragile ecosystems around the Desert Road and maintain the health of the heritage horses.
The muster is held every two years by DoC to manage the herd within the Waiouru Military Training area.
In 2016, 100 horses were mustered – and in 2018, it’ll be the biggest muster in more than two decades.
Kaimanawa Heritage Horses (KHH), a not-for-profit group which finds willing New Zealanders and prepares them to take on a wild animal, says it’s had applications to adopt just 57 horses to date.
WHAT ARE THE KAIMANAWA HORSES?
Kaimanawa horses are a population of wild horses that live on the Kaimanawa Range in New Zealand.
They are known for their hardiness and quiet temperament. The New Zealand government strictly controls the population to protect the habitat in which they live, which includes several endangered species of plants. The horses are usually well-muscled, sure-footed and tough.
Horses were first reported in the Kaimanawa Range in 1876. The herds grew as horses escaped and were released from sheep stations and cavalry bases. Members of the herd were recaptured by locals for use as riding horses, as well as being caught for their meat, hair and hides. The herd declined in the 70’s and only around 174 horses were known to exist by 1979.
The Kaimanawa herd was protected by the New Zealand government in 1981, and there were 1,576 horses in the herd by 1994.
Roundups have been carried out annually since 1993 to manage the size of the herd, removing around 2,800 horses altogether. The Kaimanawa population is listed as a herd of special genetic value by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, and several studies have been conducted on the herd dynamics and habits of the breed.