Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Wild horses to replace tanks in army's training areas

ČTK |
23 January 2013

Prague, Jan 22 (CTK) - Wild horses might be imported to the Czech Republic and released in selected areas including abandoned military training grounds within a project the Czech Landscape group has prepared in cooperation with Czech universities and the Dutch Taurus Foundation, Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes Tuesday.

The first horses, an Exmoor pony male and three females, are to arrive to the Czech Republic soon," Czech Landscape director Dalibor Dostal told HN.

"Their owner from the Bavarian Forest died recently and the animals are on sale for a favourable price," Dostal said.

Another twelve ponies are to arrive from the Netherlands in spring.

Experts expects wild horses to help maintain unforested landscape cheaply and environment-friendly and help endangered animal species survive in meadows, the paper writes.

Some horses are to be released in the military training areas that are now being abandoned by soldiers, in the Brdy area, southwest of Prague, for example, Dostal told HN.

He said military representatives are not opposed to the idea. Final negotiations are to take place in the weeks to come.

The Czech Landscape has found sponsors for its project returning wild horses to nature.

"After some time we want to apply for EU subsidies, but the procedure lasts long and we need to bring in the horses quickly. That is why we've addressed sponsors and we've also paid a part of the costs from our own pockets," Dostal said.

He said the Czech Landscape has chosen the Exmoor pony as the most suitable for its project as its genes have remained almost unchanged since the Ice Age. Moreover, the Exmoor pony can find pasture and shelter by itself and it shuns people, which is desirable, Dostal said.

His groupe also prepares the return of wisents to the Czech landscape. In cooperation with Charles University, the South Bohemian University, the Academy of Sciences and other organisations, it has chosen several localities where wisents can be released, HN continues.

"The most suitable places are the military areas, but also the Sumava mountains (southwest Bohemia), the Jeseniky and the Beskydy mountains (north Moravia) and other areas along the borders," one of the study's authors, Miloslav Jirku, is quoted as saying.

Unlike domestic animals, the wild ones, while grazing, also consume weeds, which eventually makes the locality inhabitable for some butterflies and other insects that would otherwise go extinct, Dostal said.

rtj/t/pv

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