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The horses of Letea master the winter


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Shortly after the delivery of fodder into the Romanian Danube Delta was taken up again, FOUR PAWS started getting ready to launch a vaccination project for the wild horses. Ahead of this, vet Ovidiu Rosu needed to explore quite of few things – such as which routine do these shy animals follow? How are they coping with the winter? And how intact is the group after the stresses and strains of the past two years? In the cold days of January, the dedicated young vet embarked on an eight-day expedition to Letea, with a FOUR PAWS jeep named “Coclau”. The search for the horses, however, he had to manage on foot, as cars are prohibited in the nature reserve.

Ovidiu was lucky. He had just arrived in the picturesque landscape of the Danube Delta, when he already encountered the first small group of horses. Shy but curious, they looked at the traveller. In the biting cold of the harsh winter, the animals tend to stay in groups and retreat far into the forest. Both of this serves keeping themselves relatively warm and protected from the wind. Only when darkness falls, they venture out to the few remaining waterholes that haven't frozen over yet. Still, the animals make a healthy, stable impression – also thanks to the fodder distribution of FOUR PAWS and the extensive commitment in the region.

 

Learning to understand the horses

Time and again Dr. Rosu came across small groups or even singular animals, which calmly took notice of his presence. Particularly young stallions seem to prefer moving around by themselves in spite of the frost. This type of information is crucial to the new project. Because the plan is to equip several animals with transmitters, so FOUR PAWS can learn more about their specific location and prepare the vaccinations and birth control measures as precisely as possible. The animals should not be exposed to additional stress, which also makes it necessary to understand their behaviour.

 

New insights on their habits
Ovidiu stayed in the area for a few more days, getting up at half past six in the morning and exploring the forest and the "German Field", where the horses can be seen quite often. Heavy hay bales, each weighing around 300 kilogrammes, were laid out on the edge of the woods, where the FOUR PAWS vet encountered a group of about 70 animals – a rare site in the winter. The clearing is seemingly popular with the horses and would be an ideal location to build a corral, near which the vaccinations could take place. After eight days, Dr. Rosu left the reserve. He takes incredible impressions of the last wild horses in Europe with him. And he now knows many places the horses return to every day. These insights will be of great use in order to continue to provide the animals with the best possible help.


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