Rare horses reintroduced in Spain

Wild horses are roaming free once again in western Iberia, near the Spain-Portugal border.


The endangered Retuerta horse species is being given a second chance at survival thanks to a special breeding project.

One of the oldest horse breeds in Europe, the Retuerta resembles a race of ancient Iberian horse that once populated the region around the Spain-Portugal border.

Only around 150 Retuerta remain in the entire world – and most of these are in a national park in southern Spain.

But Rewilding Europe wants to change all that. The non-governmental organization that seeks to protect biodiversity in Europe has arranged for 50 Retuerta to be introduced to the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve in western Spain.

Diego Benito, a forestry engineer at the reserve said: “It’s a wild horse – so it’s in its DNA to roam free in the wild.

“Our idea is to just let them manage the ecosystem themselves.”

Benito admits though that as the horse is an endangered species, rangers will intervene if necessary to help the horses survive.

“If one of them gets ill, we could call the veterinarian. In the future, we’ll treat them like wild horses – but for now, they could use a little care,” he added.

Reintroducing horses at Campanarios is one of six pilot projects taking place across the continent sponsored by Rewilding Europe.

Other projects include the reintroduction of European red deer, brown bears and white-tailed eagles and these plans are happening in countries like Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Croatia, as well as in Spain.

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