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In the rich quiet hills and forests of the island of Cephalonia, a sudden motion catches the eye. A deer? Too big. What can it be? If the observer is lucky, over there, emerging into a sunny meadow, is one of less than two dozen wild horses who inhabit the forest land. Native to the Arta region just south of the Pindos Mountains on the mainland, these hardy horses are the descendants of horses captured in the mountains and sold as workhorses on the island. Centuries of escapes, deliberate freeing, and wild breeding have created the herd that exists today.
Suffering from injuries from the rocky territory, bad water supplies, and harsh winters, these proud ponies have struggled to survive. With increased harvesting of trees from the island, cover and food plants have grown increasingly limited. Some have been deliberately killed as farmers believe, unfortunately not without reason, that their foraging reduces what is available for the sheep and goats.
A group of Cephalonians and expatriate residents have created a charitable foundation, The Environmental League for the Animals in the Ionian (ELATI). Members of ELATI are working together in hopes of establishing viewing center for tourists to see these wild horses, providing a reason for visitors to explore the interior of the island and improving the economics of the area. In the meantime, stabilizing the herd is essential. ELATI plans to set up supplementary feeding stations to reduce the burden on local farmers and to provide an improved diet for the horses. They also are removing rocks and stones along paths frequented by the horses to reduce leg injuries.
With a little assistance and savvy management, the wild horses of Cephalonia can contribute to the island's economy at the same time as they improve their own lives and chances for longterm survival.
For more information on helping the wild horses of Cephalonia, please contact :firstname.lastname@example.org
They have registered as a Greek charity and accept donations at the address below.
The Commercial Bank of Greece
142 Branch 701 Argostoli
"The animals share with us the privilege of having a soul." Pythagoras
Photos courtesy The Environmental League for the Animals in the Ionian (ELATI).