Thanks to a decline in farming, numerous wild animals are reclaiming the ancient oak woods between Spain and Portugal, particularly 4 dozen of Spanish "Retuerta" horses that have been released onto the 1,235-acre Biological Reserve "Campanarios de Azaba" in Espeja (Salamanca province) The animals were transplanted from the Doñana National Park in the provinces of Huelva and Sevilla (previously the only place where they existed). They and are now being left alone to fend for themselves as part of the country’s rewilding project.
Retuertas are considered to be among the oldest breed of horses, “dating to 3000 years BP,” and look similar to the ancient Iberian horses that thrived in Spain before being domesticated. They are the only horses still, living wild and isolated from other equines.
"It's a wonderful horse that has been around since time immemorial," despite coming close to extinction, said Carlos Sanchez, director of the conservation group running the site. "We are recovering the most primitive breeds to try to help manage an ecosystem which has been abandoned due to the disappearance of humans."
The Campanarios reserve is part-funded by Rewilding Europe, an initiative for development through "wild nature" in various countries.
"For the first time in history, Europe is facing a situation where there is no grazing anymore," said Frans Schepers, managing director of the Netherlands-based organization.
Other animals now thriving in Campanarios include wolves, rare vultures and feral cows, etc.. To learn more about the project visit http://rewildingeurope.com/