The first herd of wild horses has today run onto a pasture in a former military area after the Soviet army
Instead of Soviet army tanks there are wild horses coming from England. That is what it looks like, from today, in the former military area of Milovice in the Czech Republic, which was occupied by one hundred thousand Soviet soldiers and their families for two decades. While the last transport with the Soviet soldiers left Milovice on 19th June 1991, today fourteen wild horses have been released into the former exercise area.
The animals were put in a two-hectare acclimatization enclosure on 28th January, when they arrived from England. Today they have been released from the enclosure into a main forty-hectare pasture. “The horses were uncertain at first, not only from a new space which has opened to them, but also from a great number of photographers and television crews. After a while, however, they ran into the pasture which will be their home for the following years,“ stated Dalibor Dostal, the Director of conservation organisation European Wildlife.
This organisation is working on the project with experts from the Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences, Charles University in Prague, South Bohemian University in Ceske Budejovice and with its local organisation Czech Countryside.
Wild horses, which are from the original animal species in Europe, have been exterminated by man on the continent. Wild-living horses, however, have survived in the rough surroundings of Exmoor in Great Britain, on a plateau with a lot of marshes and moorlands. The first written mention of them goes back to the year 1086 and thus they are the oldest breed in Europe. For centuries the local people simply called them “wild horses“ and in royal hunting they were traditionally recorded on lists of wild game. Relatively recently, in the 19th century, the name Exmoor pony started being used for them, sometimes Celtic pony too.
Extensive scientific research is also a part of the project. “In the last days we marked out fifteen monitor pads in the pasture. With their help we will compare vegetation development in the places where the horses will graze with how the vegetation would further develop without their presence,“ explains Miloslav Jirků of the Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences, who coordinates all the scientific and research project activities. The area with wild horses will be researched by botanists, entomologists, zoologists and also experts on horse ethology exploring relationship development in a herd.
The group of horses released into the pastures was formed only by mares. In less than a month, on 18th April, a stallion will also come to them. Its arrival is delayed for the mares to be able to make social relations in the herd. Besides, the later contact of the stallion with the herd will ensure foal births in the spring months of next year. If the stallion had already come with the mares in January, foals would be born next year just at the end of winter into bad weather.