The word « feral » means an animal that was domestic and became wild.
These feral horses were left after world war 1 (mostly from a breeder of race horses and working horses and from war horses left behind during bombing by German and Union soldiers). Thanks to wind mills pumping water from the ground, water holes were still in activities and allowing the horses to survive (oryx, springbok, kudu, ostriches, … are also dependent of theses holes).
In 1960 (?), the population goes down to 40 horses. They recovered and the herd grow up to 286 in 2012. In 2015, the herd is made with 175 horses : around 100 stallions and 75 mares. Usually the ratio is 55/45 in favor to male, but now it is nearly 62/38. The drop during these last 3 years was due to hyenas attacking them and also because of a low drop of rains. If 3 hyenas or more are on a horse and he could not escape, he has little chance to survive. Nowadays, they seem to deal better with hyenas and less horses are killed. Once a year, a horse is killed in a car accident (there are no fences surrounding the tar road because horses -and other animals- should go from north to south in case of rain failure. They can find more moisture near by the mountain on the south. The park is nearly 400 km long and 100 km wide, but the water holes are important and they usually don’t go farther than 30 km away of one. So they are living in a place of 400km2. To find their food: grass and bushes – very rare in the desert – they are walking a lot and they can ride up to 60 km a night and are mostly sleeping in the day while high temperatures. Telanie Greyling (in charge of the wild horses foundation) told me that she observed a correlation between the quantities of rains and the number of horses. In 1992 and 1998, they had to be complemented by minerals because rainfalls were particularly low but no hay or luzern is given so that they can still be called « wild horses ».
The breed is a cross of Cape horses, Trakehner, Argentinean and Java Ponies with some Barb and Shagya Arab.
The members of the wildlife foundation are trying to preserve the park, teaching and helping ranger (used to animals in north park, but not to this situation), communication with the ministry in order for the government to help in case of bad situations : like giving minerals. The foundation is not allowed to do anything but warning the Ministry in case of a bad situation. Usually, the government understand the touristic importance of preserving the wildlife and is listening to advices.
At the latest news (2016), there were unfortunately no winter rain so it is not looking so good for grazing, therefore the foundation is planning to start supplementing the horses with a mineral lick this October.