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Isaac soloman View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 Sep 2018 at 11:23am

Learning how to tame Australia's 'wild, crazy, untrusting' desert brumbies

By national rural and regional reporter Leonie Mellor, photography by Matthew Abbott

Posted about 4 hours ago

Right in the heart of desert country where the red bulldust clogs every pore, a black stallion stops grazing, lifts his head, listening.

He senses something is not right, gives a snort and turns abruptly, galloping off into the distance.

Other horses follow his lead, jumping over spinifex, dodging mulga trees, and tearing across red sandy plains.

It's desperation. A sense of survival.

Among them, a young mare is followed by her foal just a few weeks old, keeping up with the rest. It has to.

As the helicopter draws closer, the strength and surefootedness of these wild horses shine. It's like this is what they've been born to do.

There are thousands of them running wild among the canyons and claypans of central Australia, across vast tracts of land south-west of Alice Springs.

Some are descendants of animals owned by the early explorers.

Others turned loose as stockmen were replaced by machinery.

Professor Chris Pollitt has been coming to the outback to study them for more than a decade. He is the David Attenborough of brumbies.

"To fly over this country in helicopters and see individual bands of horses moving across the county is an experience for me that takes me back to the evolution of the horse, the way it was millions of years ago," he said.

From up here, the athleticism of the horses is evident, but it's their ability to survive that really fascinates Professor Pollitt — their endurance and ability to cope with extremes in temperature, in an often harsh environment.

As Professor of Equine Medicine at the University of Queensland, he spearheaded the Australian Brumby Research Unit.

But not even he knows how many horses are here.

"It's anybody's guess" he said.

Estimates range from 15,000 to 30,000.

But what is certain, is that their numbers are growing and it's causing problems.

"The conundrum is we love the horse, we love to see it in its wild state, its fully evolved state, thriving in its natural environment we love to see that," he said.

But we know this is Australia and it's not their natural environment, so we have to make some compromises.

Down at a waterhole surrounded by desert oaks and eucalypts, Professor Pollitt waits behind green hessian cloth strung between two trees.

Soon, hooves can be heard.

"Everybody thinks of a herd of horses, but that doesn't exist," he said.

"Horses only live in bands.

"Once the band is established all the mares are loyal to that stallion and that stallion is loyal to all of the mares. It's a really special thing to see."

Brumbies take to a waterhole in the NT
Brumbies stopping for a drink

'Life hangs but for a thread'

They call him "The Prof" — mild mannered and softly spoken under his broad brimmed hat.

But when he sees brumbies he becomes energised, passionate to share his knowledge.

So he started brumby week — a chance for horse-loving adventurers to see the wild horses in their equally untamed environment.

They come from all over the country — and from as far away as the United Kingdom and Germany — to join "The Prof" on the week-long adventure.

In the stockyards of Kings Creek Station — a working cattle and camel property about 300 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs — tourists are taught how to break the wild animals in.

And it is all done in just a week.

For some, like Penny Richards from Orange in NSW, it's been a life-long dream — and now she is taking one of the wild horses back home.

It's a really emotional thing to see a horse turn from this wild, crazy, untrusting animal to something that just gives to you," she said.

"I think after the second day of working with her I couldn't think of ever re-releasing her.

"I couldn't think of her ever having to go back to being hungry and being thirsty and having to have foal, after foal, after foal and stallions fighting over her."

Among the group are Brisbane psychiatrist Jennifer Gunn and her sister Helen Bowie, from Cairns.

Jennifer has been riding horses for years, Helen is along for the laughs and to learn.

"This is really important," Jennifer, the older sister, said. "This is our time."

The sisters made a pact to take a holiday together once a year — a promise made more important after Jennifer was diagnosed with lymphoma 12 months ago.

She is now cancer-free, and, after this week, has ticked another experience off her bucket list.

"Life hangs but for a thread," Jennifer said. "It is important to have that realisation. Not to be scared of it but to live it, and that's what we're going to do."

'They trample the ground, cause erosion'

Inside the stockyards at Kings Creek, renowned horse trainer Brian Hampson has captured a handful of young horses from the thousands that roam nearby plains.

He lets one through to the round yard. It's frisky and frightened.

With a flag attached to the end of a stick, Dr Hampson talks through how he's communicating with the horse, to break it in.

"I love having brumbies out here. I wouldn't like to come out to the desert environment and not see horses. But there's just too many of them," he said.

"They trample the ground, cause erosion.

They eat every bit of grass in that valley by the end of the long winter time (it) just changes the ecology of the valley forever.

Wildlife ecologist David Berman completed his PhD in the area30 years ago and has seen how it's changed.

The land around waterholes is bare, native pastures eaten out across the plains.

"There are no predators that will help keep the numbers down. So just about every population of horses in Australia will be gradually increasing at somewhere between 7 and 20 per cent per year," Dr Berman said.

Three years ago, about 8,000 brumbies were culled from a nearby property.

Culling is a controversial but effective method of keeping numbers down.

A recent plan by the NSW Government to cull the animals in the Kosciuszko National Park, which it backflipped on in May after a public outcry, just highlights the emotional debate around the animals.

They are now protected as "cultural icons".

Rehoming, as is done on Kings Creek, is one small way of reducing numbers. Another option is setting up dedicated reserves, and there's also sterilisation.

But that's seen as impractical because of the vast area the brumbies inhabit.

Culling's not the only answer," Dr Berman said. "You need all these options and you need to judge which options to use in the different situations."

Ian Conway, the owner and manager of Kings Creek Station, said many Aboriginal people in the area were opposed to culling — they see it as horses being destroyed for no reason.

"When the cull was on they really didn't want them shot, and they discovered horses dead everywhere and they were very upset about it," he said.

"I actually travelled with some old Indigenous fellas in this area like the traditional owners of this region and they see any animal alive like that as should be left alive."

Mr Conway said he would rather see the feral horses shipped to slaughterhouses for meat as an enterprise for Indigenous people rather than shot and left to waste.

Despite dedicating much of his life to studying the wild animals, for "The Prof" there are no easy answers.

"The dilemma is if you do nothing," he said.

"If you let the animals breed up and then severe droughts come as they must in this central Australian environment, you're going to be faced with horses starving to death and dying of thirst.

"That is a horrible thing to see."

Watch the story on the ABC's 7.30 program tonight.

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Isaac soloman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Isaac soloman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Sep 2018 at 11:24am
second photo, typical Danehill line markings, the bay with white socks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tlazolteotl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Sep 2018 at 11:53am
What is NoFollow? It is giving me the sh1ts.Angry
"Even the things that I believe in the most, I doubt.”
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Sep 2018 at 12:49pm
Thanks Isaac Thumbs Up
Sadly the reality is that horses, donkeys & camels aren't native to this country & therefore thrive in the good times with no apex predator to keep their numbers at a sustainable level Cry

Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Dec 2018 at 4:09pm
Pre Christmas aerial culling in NSW & starvation for the Barmah brumbies & wildlife in Vic, what are our welfare organisations coming to? Ouch

Copy/paste https://www.riverineherald.com.au/2018/12/04/350849/brumbies-the-dark-side-of-their-reality?fbclid=IwAR2cd2_afJRz9qBnHIy9eTSeSzj8ozhfgfbmcylbIfjgGWO43UDzS4ZLezk

Not a good look internationally!


Maybe some action after many months, deaths & Parks/RSPCA handballing Tongue

Renee Neubauer to Barmah Brumby Preservation Group

Yesterday's events and although horrendously tragic, out of the video has come an enormous outcry of support and worldwide awareness. As a result Ch 9 Melbourne contacted Murray today and we've just finished up a 3 hour session of talks and interviews. We're feeling like this is going to be a bit of a step up and speak up against the authorities Parks rspca Goulburn catchment authority.
It's on tonight at 6pm ch 9 .
I asked the crew about how do media figure out what pos
ts are getting the hits.
I was told you need to play the news video and if you watch it 100 times it counts as a hit every time . You don't have to watch the whole story thru just so it plays a bit.
Sharing commenting and likes help but media look at how many times it's watched.
Thank you beautiful mare as you're a big part of sending the message out. We will not forget your bubs we will feed him or her until it's all fixed and you can live on. 🐎
🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Dec 2018 at 7:38pm

Ch 9 News footage & pics:
https://9news.com.au/2018/12/12/13/04/barmah-national-park-150-brumbies-in-dire-condition?ocid=Social-9NewsM&fbclid=IwAR3Wac2dlR1wAsmaIzcBaTT6GZ2XXq-PG6vooT0dThT1ithnjLsti0xEqnU

Wild brumbies starving in Central Victoria as Parks Victoria do nothing, locals say


Wild brumbies in Central Victoria are facing a grim reality with heavily decreased grazing land leaving many with nothing to eat.

The unusual combination of drought conditions and environmental flooding has left more than 150 brumbies in the Barmah National Park north-east of Echuca in dire condition.

Local residents say that Parks Victoria are failing to address the ongoing problem, implementing a management plan they say consists of delaying action long enough that the brumbies health becomes so poor they can then shoot them on sight.

Their bodies are left to rot.

The Barmah Brumby Preservation Group, made up of concerned local residents, are currently rendering on-ground support for the starving and sick horses.

The groups Facebook page presents a horrific collection of images and videos of horses on the brink of starvation.

Mark Norman, chief conservation scientist, Parks Victoria, said he understood people’s concerns however regulations prevent the feeding of, or interference with, animals in National Parks.

“Parks Victoria is responding to incidences of malnourished feral horses and receiving advice and assistance from RSPCA Victoria regarding the welfare of the animals,” Mr Norman said.

Volunteer groups report lengthy response times by Parks Victoria, leaving community members to comfort the dying animals while they await someone legally allowed to euthanise the animal.

Parks officers have been actively checking volunteers are adhering to the no feeding in the Park rule.

Barmah resident Kaye Moor said at least 26 brumbies and foals have died since the start of November.

Six foals have been rescued and sent to Hoofs2010 – a charity working to save and promote Australian bush horses.

The group has established a Go-Fund me page to raise funds for ground support, aiming to raise $25,000.

In a statement to 9News.com.au, Parks Victoria Chief Conservation Scientist Dr Mark Norman said patrols are conducted “twice a day across the park”.

“With support from a team of regional equine vets, as well as responding to public notifications of distressed horses,” Dr Norman said.

“Those in very poor condition are being humanely put down on the spot. To date we have euthanised 18 horses. We will continue to monitor and review the situation.”

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018

Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Dec 2018 at 8:44pm
Twice a day across the park ??  What a load of crap.  Talk to the locals on the ground to find out exactly how big a load of crap it is.  And meanwhile NSW plan to aerial shoot the Singleton Brumbies a week before Christmas.  Aerial shooting is illegal in NSW but they are on defence force land , so it seems its not illegal there.  Confused  If anyone doesnt have any idea how horrific aerial shooting of horses is , check out the mass slaughter in Guy Fawkes NP . 
Whats even sadder they thought they would sneak it by and no one would know,,,,they think we are all callous fools.   RSPCA are useless.
OMG the way we allow our wild horses to be treated is nothing short of disgraceful.Angry
animals before people.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2018 at 2:15pm
Murray Willaton to Barmah Brumby Preservation Group

Hi everyone, Well is this a busy time! This has exploded.. This has happened because all you guys have been waging a battle for 5 years and never wavered. All of the work we have done has added up and the straw has finally broke the camels back.

We have a long way to go, but this has turned. The support we are receiving is huge.

The racing industries both thoroughbred and pacing have come on board big time. We are about to receive some truck loads of hay which have been donated.

I also had a great conversation with the owner of one of the biggest international thoroughbred studs in the world and they are on board big time. Word has got out, The racing industries are disgusted seeing this cruelty to horses. They are spreading the word to all of their associates.

We are also receiving legal advice.

I understand that it is frustrating to hear Parks Victoria's deceptive comments in the media. We were always going to have to battle the governments twist on things. That's fine we are getting the truth out there and will prevail.

Keep the social media and media pressure up. Even though it seems to be a frustrating process dealing with this, The wheel is turning.

We just need to keep winning little battles to finally win the war.

Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Yesterday at 2:40pm
I just wanted to update you as to the situation with the proposed aerial cull on Tuesday of the Singleton Brumbies. 

There has been an overwhelming support from the public, media, social media and animal welfare lobby groups and it has gone all the way to the top and is now in the hands of Defense Minister Christopher Pyne. There are unconfirmed reports that there is a briefing on Monday. 

NBN News were here to film this morning and this could possibly go regional - from the Central Coast to the Gold Coast and further western NSW so tune in tonight and we will post a link to the story on our facebook page. 

I would like to think that Minister Pyne would not want this on his hands this Christmas and coming in to an election, but anything is possible.

Thankyou for all of your support and fingers crossed for some good news next week. 

This from the HVBA today
animals before people.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 2 hours 7 minutes ago at 2:06pm
Oh Hell! Things seem to get more gruesome & cruel with every new post Cry
Murray Willaton to Barmah Brumby Preservation Group

Myself and Salts Wyuna went out this morning to search for the missing mare we were feeding. Parks Victoria knew we were feeding her, Her yearling son and some mates. Parks Victoria had the gelatis on so they installed the camouflaged camera to catch us. Well Thursday they went out and shot that mare whilst standing next to lucerne. They shot her in the hip and then she crashed thru the bush over 120 metres until they put her out of her Man made suffering. This is vindictive, they knew she was being fed and was improving. The way this mare was put down is also disgraceful.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 1 hour 16 minutes ago at 2:57pm
If you dare to question NPWS people , they always tell you they employ "expert marksmen ".   If that, and mnay other shot horses taken out by their marksmen, is an expert shot, I will eat my hat.  There is just no need for this cruel and spiteful action. 
Cull if you must ,  but do it humanely.
animals before people.
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