In the coming weeks, up to 10,000 horses are scheduled to be shot from helicopters on Tempe Downs Station in the Northern Territory of Australia. The Waler Horse Society of Australia Inc. (WHSA), along with numerous other animal welfare groups, believes aerial culling is an inhumane approach to population control of horses running wild in the Australian outback. This method has previously been shown to leave a proportion of horses suffering due to non-fatal wounding and the difficulty in killing humanely when firing from a moving vehicle. Aerial culling of horses could also have significant unintended/undesirable ecological consequences. Large numbers of rotting horse carcases could lead to a rise in wild dog/dingo, fox and cat populations which would in turn pose additional risks to other commercial livestock and more vulnerable native species.
Horses have played a vital role in Australia’s exploration, survival and development and are an essential element of the Australian Heritage. The WHSA argues that wild horses have a historical validity in Australia. The WHSA was founded to preserve and promote the Waler horse and came into existence in 1986 following the infamous aerial cull of central Australian horses around that time and continues to source Foundation Waler stock from outback stations such as Tempe Downs. Tempe Downs horses are recognized as descendants of true Waler types that existed from colonial times and as a source of remounts for the army. A selection of horses running wild on Tempe Downs Station are believed to be part of remnant herds linked to the original horses bred for the Australian remount trade. These horses were exported to the British Army in India for over 100 years and used by the Australian Light Horse in the Boer War, WWI and WWII, where they became known as the Waler and gained the reputation as one of the finest cavalry horses in the World. Numbers of horses captured and relocated from Tempe Downs have been accepted for Foundation Registration with the WHSA.
“There can be no two opinions as to the country being suitable for horse breeding; the young stock on Tempe Downs are very good...” (Quote by Chewings 1891, “God, Guns and Government on the Central Australian Frontier” 2007 By Peter Vallée)
These horses continue to survive, if not thrive, on the natural outback vegetation and with natural selection over many years, and as such possess highly desirable equine genotypic attributes of hardiness and survivability that it is so important to preserve.
The WHSA recognises that large populations of wild horse impact on the natural environment and agree population management and selective culling is necessary. It is accepted that a percentage of Tempe Downs horses would need to be culled due to excessive numbers, age and injury. However, we believe it is necessary to adopt a range of population management strategies which have long-term sustainability and offer ongoing population management in preference to intermittent aerial culling. The WHSA proposes that Government funding be directed into the development and implementation of sustainable long-term population management strategies which include:
- training programs for the Traditional Owners to effectively manage the horse population;
- the development of infrastructure such as fencing around key water sources and holding yards facilities;
- an annual muster of horses for selective culling to bring the horse population into a more sustainable number and reduce the impact on the natural environment;
- ongoing trapping of horses on water sources using a method known as ‘passive trapping’ whereby horses being lured into permanent and/or portable yards with feed and/or water, gaining access through a one-way gate which allows the horses to enter but prevents them from leaving. Passive trapping is considered a more humane method of capture as it places much less stress on the horse as opposed to mustering with helicopters and/or motorbikes.;
- identification of commercial opportunities of captured horses;
- and ultimately to facilitate the selection of horses for training, rehabilitation and rehoming.
Sources indicate the estimated costs of the aerial cull will be between $200-400 per head, which indicates the total cost of the cull would be in the vicinity of $2-4 million (based on the estimated slaughter of 10,000 horses). These Waler horses are a living tribute to our pioneering heritage. The WHSA believes Government funding used for aerial culling would be far better directed into the development and implementation of sustainable long-term population management practices.
Please show your support for the Waler horse and the rejection of aerial culling by signing this petition.
The EQUITANA Mitavite Waler Legacy Project recognizes the value of these horses and has created a 12 month project to showcase this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raD1Gq2Iy2U&feature=youtu.be