Since 2013, we have been working to help some of the last horses living wild in Europe. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, owners who no longer needed their workhorses let them free in the Romanian Danube Delta. In the past two decades, this population has grown rapidly. Because the Danube Delta is a strictly protected biosphere reserve, the growing population of horses endangers the flora and fauna. To control the population, the Romanian authorities originally saw no other solution than to allow the horses to be shot. We reacted immediately by making an offer to the Romanian government: we would establish a birth control program that could control the population long-term. Since 2012, a team of Romanian vets has been sucessfully implementing this program.
Contraception for mares
Our solution is not to do surgery on these sensitive animals but immunization through a contraceptive vaccine. The castration of stallions is not a feasible option since the task would be more complex and involve higher risks for the animals. Moreover, an uncastrated stallion can mate with up to 50 mares in one season. The chance of catching and castrating all stallions within a season is practically impossible.
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Veterinary treatment and feeding
In cooperation with the Romanian authorities, we have agreed to the following activities along with our birth control program:
- FOUR PAWS vets will provide care for ill and old horses.
- In the case of scarce forage available, FOUR PAWS will provide the horses with hay.
- Our vet Ovidiu Rosu has written his doctoral thesis on the effectiveness of birth control through the contraceptive vaccine PZP (Porcine zona pellucida).
2018 was our sixth year in the Danube Delta looking after the horses and carrying out our birth control program. We are also looking to partner with universities interested in researching the interaction between the horses and nature.