27. May, 2014

The last of the Ionian Wild horses

"The animals share with us the privilege of having a soul." Pythagoras

As I am still on this island with its quiet hills and forests, I shall tell you a little about the very few surviving wild horses of Ainos.

    With their rebellious pride (probably as a result of being direct descendents of the Greek horses of Alexander the Great) they remain one of the few of their species, existing in a free state, in the entire world.

     Abandoned during and after the Second World War, onto the rocky slopes of Mount Ainos, these enchanting animals with souls of strength continue to fight for their survival, despite becoming almost extinct.

    They roam the black pine forests around the monastery of Zoodochos Pighi, stumbling over rocks and boulders in their search for water. The slopes of the mountain are scarred with deep ravines and gullies, it is no wonder they suffer from twisted knee joints and arthritis. And with the felling of trees in the past and destructive fires, life can be tough for these rather shy animals. However, foraging is easier in the summer months when ground food is more plentiful but even then they have to compete with the goats and the sheep and the farmers that blame them for causing the lack of food for their own animals.

       During my research, I discovered that there are volunteers who look out for these wild horses and indeed, plans are in hand to set up a supplementary feeding station to reduce the burden on local farmers. Rocks are also being removed along paths to reduce the likelihood of injury but there are still the harsh winters on the mountain to face.

      Having lived in isolation for decades, these animals have become a special breed due to their determination to survive these harsh conditions which they were not originally born to. They survived the war and now they fight an bigger war on the mountains they’ve made their home.