Once upon a time there was a small group of domestic horses who suddenly were left orphans and their generations adapted themselves to live in the wild..
The Aveto Natural Regional Park is a natural park in the Province of Genoa situated in the inland territory of Tigullio.
In this protected area lives a group of around forty horses borne from descendants of domestic animals who learned to survive in the wild without any human intervention or contact.
Unfortunately their lives are threatened by the intolerance of the rural communities nearby that led to painful episodes of killing and imprisonment. This is the reason why the conservation project Wild Horse Watching – I Cavalli Selvaggi dell’Aveto was founded in 2012 by two brave and determined women, Paola Marinari and Evelina Isola.
These wild horses are one of a kind in Italy!
I had the chance to meet Paola during an extremely educational guided horse watching excursion she organised across Aveto Park. After an interesting explanation of the origin of the species, the ongoing research and the census carried out of the packs in the park to observe and monitor them, we started walking along the path to reach the lake where it was more probable to see some of the horses.
Our first lucky encounter was a couple of young horses now living separately from their original pack. The behavior of those horses alone or in packs is now of great interest to better understand the equine ethology; many similarity have already been established between the American Mustang and the Mongolian Przewalski.
Walking in the park was amazing and I appreciated its incredible biodiversity: high-mountain landscapes of the ligurian Appennines, grazing lands and large beech tree woods being the wild habitat of a variegated flora, and many animals spices, including the wolf and its natural pray, the roe deer.
During the day an unexpected call suddenly clouded Paola’s enthusiasm and she sadly explained to us that a very cruel episode shocked the peace of the horses the day before: during the night some unidentified individual captured around ten horses and locked them into a crumbling, unsuitable paddock.
It was probably the ignorant act of some of the local people who were bothered by them: during the winter season the horses climb down the hills looking for food, sometimes causing damages to private property.
A few days after I read in the newspapers that their conditions in captivity had become significantly worse and they looked profoundly depressed and thinner. Only after the intervention of the italian ex -Ministry of Turism was the liberation of the horses allowed by the mayor of Borzonasca.
The founders of this conservation project are now attempting to obtain the official identification of these wild horses as a natural heritage to be preserved and to find the resources to build the fences along the margin of the park to prevent the horses from getting close to the road and the houses.