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Wild Horses of South America
 By Winniefield Park   •   25th Feb 2019   •   262 views   •   0 comments
When it comes to wild horses, most of us picture the feral herds roaming the North American midwest. But, they aren’t the only wild or feral herds surviving on the Western Hemisphere. South America too, has free-roaming herds of horses, many direct descendants of the Spanish horses brought so long ago by the Spanish.

One of the largest concentrations of wild horses in South America live in Torres del Paine National Park. There are also small populations in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, and on the inhospitable island of Tierra del Fuego. These wild horses of Patagonia, also called baguales, live in a harsh climate. Patagonia is the lower end of South America, encompassing the sparsely populated southern regions of both Chile and Argentina. It’s bisected by rugged mountains and flanked by equally rugged plains. Some parts are only accessible by sea.



It’s a harsh climate, and that is not all. Unlike North American wild herds, South American wild herds must endure predation from pumas. Recently, researchers suggested that the survival rates of foals was quite low, largely due to pumas, and this keeps the population in check. Occasionally, a small number are taken for meat by the local human inhabitants.

Like many wild horses, these individuals are small, compact and hardy. They are mainly bay or sorrel. And while herd sizes in NA are small, herds of up to 100 Patagonian horses have been observed. These horses have become the basis for eco-tourism and scientific-tourism.

Bolivia is known as South American ‘wild west’. It’s rugged and arid. And here too can be found the hardy descendants of Spanish Horses. Peru is home to many wild horses. The wild horses of Cotopaxi live alongside a volcano. There are about 200 horses living within the boundaries of Cotopaxi National Park. Along with the harsh climate they live in cowboys from the local haciendas take part in round-ups that capture horses for use herding cattle.



Brazil’s wild horses of Roraima mainly eat cashew fruit, the apple-like husks that grow over the nut we’re familiar with. The population was once thought to be around 4000, but recently it has declined to about 200 individuals. Interestingly, all of this population carries Equine Infectious Anemia, but none show symptoms, leading researchers to believe they have developed a genetic resistance. These horses are threatened by sport hunting and killing for meat.

Brazil’s Pantaneiro, also called the Poconeao or Mimoseano horses, live in the tropical wetland Pantanal region. They are small but hardy. These horses are also resistant to EIA. Some consider it a breed and it has been the subject of genetic study as it has been feral for three centuries, with little interference from humans.

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