The feral horses of Garb have adapted to the desert environment that offers searing temperatures and little food. This area is protected from hunters and horse-trading, which is what makes people think give these wild horses a chance to adapt and survive.
This area was first settled during the gold rush in 1873 but today the village of Kaapsehoop is occupied by many artists who have set up shop. Experiencing one adventure into this area will have you understanding why the freedom-loving souls have always found it a place to call home.
The wetlands that house the Rewinds Nature Preserve also give refuge to a small herd of wild horses that have a mysterious origin, These horses are the most difficult to get a glimpse of as the herd is small and their history with humans has left them staying clear of the two-legged species. It is thought the horses an originated when the British soldiers left the area over a hundred years ago.
The herd eventually grew to be over 200 strong but local farmers hunted them down and killed most of them. It is told that only three of these original horses managed to escape, and they are the ancestors of those who now thrive in the wetland area.
Taking the time to explore the areas where wild horses still run free will be an experience you will never forget. If you keep in mind these animals are feral and should not be fed or approached closely, you will be able to observe them as they go about their day.
When he moves on from this world, he does not want to leave his grandchildren a planet without lions, rhinos and elephants. But whether truth or myth, these horses now roam free in the wetlands between Diamond and Bot river lagoon.
The historic mining village of Kaapsehoop is situated about 25 kilometers from the town of Newsprint in the South African province of Mpumalanga. The Kaapsehoop area offers exceptionally beautiful landscapes, complete with gushing waterfalls, indigenous forests and rugged hillsides.
A large area of the grasslands of Kaapsehoop has been designated as a protected National Heritage Site and is a haven for endemic birds including breeding pairs of the endangered Blue Swallow. Gold was discovered in the area, which was originally known as Duels Cantor (literally meaning Devil’s Office), a name which came about because of the shape of the large sandstone boulders which naturally formed a room with tables and chairs surrounded by trees, giving the setting a somber and even sinister look.
Many of the original buildings from the 1800s still stand today and visitors can enjoy a meal at the restaurants and pubs, as well as do some shopping at the quaint arts and crafts stores. There are several theories on the ancestors of the Namib Desert Horse, and the true story may never be known.
The horse (Equus ferns) probably originated in Asia, hundreds of thousands of years ago. There are several theories on the ancestors of the Namib Desert Horse, and the true story may never be known.
A natural habitat of the wild horse is the steppes of Central Asia. And here, some 5000 years ago, humans first capture, tame and breed the horse.
The original purpose, as with cattle, is to acquire a reliable source of meat and subsequently milk. Known for its strength, kind disposition, and endurance, the Criollo is the native horse of several South American countries, including Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay.
It survived only because the Bering land bridge that once connected Alaska and Siberia had enabled animals to cross into Asia and spread west. It is probably the only feral herd of horses residing in Africa, with a population ranging between 90 and 150.
Despite the harsh environment in which they live, the horses are generally in good condition, except during times of extreme drought. The origin of the Namib Desert Horse is unclear, though several theories have been put forward.
Whatever their origin, the horses eventually congregated in the Garb Plains, near Au's, Namibia, the location of a man-made water source. They were generally ignored by humans, except for the periodic threat of eradication due to the possibility that they were destroying native herbivore habitat, until the 1980s.
In 1984, the first aerial survey of the population was made, and in 1986, their traditional grazing land was incorporated into the Namib-Naukluft Park. Since the early 1990s, close records of the population have been kept, and studies have been performed to determine the horses effect on their environment.
Despite being considered an exotic species within the park, they are allowed to remain due to their ties to the country's history and draw as a tourist attraction. The Namib Desert Horses are athletic, muscular, clean-limbed, and strong boned.
Club hooves are occasionally seen in foals, likely due to trauma to the hoof while traveling long distances. Scientists studying the horses rate their body condition on a scale of one (excellent) to five (very poor), based mainly on estimated weight and muscle tone.
The condition of the horses is directly correlated to rainfall, through a correlation to available forage, though temperature, distance between forage and water and individual energy expenditures also play a role. Studies during the 1990s found no evidence of equine disease among the population and few external parasites.
Investigations of carcasses found four internal nematode parasites present (strangles, small and large pin worms and Awards), as well as the larvae of bottles. The Namib Desert Horse travels extensively, searching for food, water and shelter from the climate and insects.
A 1994 study found that they have an average home range of 13 square miles (34 km 2), although not all of that is traversed each day. This creates severe selection pressure and removes weak animals from the population.
In 1993, a second study showed that the physiological water-conservation ability did not differ between Namib Desert Horses and other populations when dehydrated for periods of up to 60 hours, but suggested that the Namib Desert Horse would show improved conservation ability when dehydration periods were extended to upwards of 72 hours, a common occurrence in their feral state. The horses, especially young foals and juveniles, provide a major food source in the southern Namib Desert for the spotted hyena, along with gearbox and springbok.
However, the availability of other food appears to have a significant influence on predation rates among the horses. The harsh environmental conditions in which they live are the main driver of mortality among the Namib Desert Horse, as they cause dehydration, malnutrition, exhaustion and lameness.
Other large plains animals, including the mountain zebra, may have once sporadically utilized the area for grazing during periods of excess rainfall, but human interference (including fencing off portions of land and hunting) have eliminated or significantly reduced the movement of these animals in the area. Despite the large domesticated breeding population from which the horses originally descended, at least one genetic bottleneck has occurred in the breed's history, resulting in a significant decline in genetic variation over a relatively short period of time.
Estimates for a necessary minimum population to maintain genetic effectiveness range between 100 and 150 animals. As the genetic similarity to Arabian-type horses is distant, they do not closely resemble them in outward appearance, although they are both of the hot-blooded type, resulting in both being athletic, lean-muscled animals.
There are several theories on the ancestors of the Namib Desert Horse, and the true story may never be known. One theory says that a cargo ship carrying Thoroughbreds to Australia wrecked near the Orange River, and the strongest horses swam ashore and traveled to the Garb Plains, the home of the Namib Desert Horse, near Au's, Namibia.
Another theory states that they descend from Cape horse /Auto pony crosses ridden by Khoikhoi raiders traveling from Southern Africa to north of the Orange River. During World War I, horses were used in campaigns in Namibia between the German Schutztruppe and South African troops, and some escaped or were released into the desert.
Prior to this time, a German Baron on Wolf built Tunisia Castle on the edge of the Namib Desert, where he held a herd of approximately 300 horses. On Wolf was killed in action in Europe during World War I, and his farm was abandoned, leaving his horses on fenced land relatively close to the area where the Namib Desert Horses now roam.
The genetic evidence of the 2001 study gave less credence to the descent from on Wolf's horses. Research in the archives of pre-1914 horse breeding operations found at Windhoek, combined with blood typing studies, suggests that the animals descended from a gene pool of high-quality riding animals, as opposed to work horses.
One possible source of breeding stock was a stud farm near Suburb, leased by Emil Kremlin (previously mayor of Luddite) from 1911 to 1919. Photo albums from the stud show animals with conformation and markings similar to those seen in the modern Namib Desert Horse.
In addition, in early 1915, during the fighting of World War I, bombs were dropped by a German aircraft onto the South African camp near Garb. Some ordnance seems to have been specifically targeted to land among a herd of 1,700 grazing horses, for the purposes of scattering them.
Horses in the area would likely have congregated at the few existing watering places in the Au's Mountains and Garb. In 1984, an aerial count was made that distinguished 168 horses, while ground-based observations in 1988 estimated between 150 and 200 animals.
The watering hole at Garb, with a shelter for human visitors in the background. In the mid-1980s, the horses habitat was made part of Namib-Naukluft Park, the largest game reserve in Africa. In 1986, after the expansion to the park, a movement was made to remove all horses (which were considered an exotic species); public outcry prevented this from happening.
In 1992, as Namibia gained its independence and a drought enveloped Southern Africa, a decision was made to reduce the population, then estimated at 276 animals. In June 104 animals were captured selectively and sold, but many did not adjust well to their new habitats and by 1997 at least half had died.
Although several attempts were originally made to exterminate the horses, due to a possible threat to onyx habitat, they are now protected by the South West Africa /Namibia Directorate of Nature Conservation. Feral Najib horses interacting closely with human visitors to the watering hole at Garb There is concern in some quarters that the horses are a negative influence on their habitat, through overgrazing and competition with native species.
The amount and species of vegetation found outside the watering area appear more affected by rainfall than by the horses, probably due to the low population density and natural rotational grazing. Due to the lack of effect on vegetation by horses, it is unlikely that they significantly influence small mammal populations.
The horses also appear to have no measurable effect on any vulnerable or endangered plant or animal species, which in several cases are more threatened by human influence. However, when their grazing grounds were made part of the game reserve, a policy of limited intervention was put in place that encouraged support to be given to the horses when necessary, bringing the horses into closer contact with humans.
This also included closer contact with tourists to Namibia, who frequently see them at the watering area at Garb and near the main road that traverses their grazing grounds. While the horses are credited with bringing tourist dollars to Namibia, there are also concerns about negative horse-human interactions, including vehicle accidents, disruption to sensitive areas by people looking for the horses and disruption of herd dynamics due to becoming too used to or dependent upon humans.
Understanding Horse Behavior: An Innovative Approach to Equine Psychology and Successful Training. “Effect of dehydration on the volumes of body fluid compartments in horses (PDF).
“Genetic Variation in the feral horses of the Namib Desert, Namibia”. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association (J S Afr Vet Assoc).
“Ghost towns and wild horses in world's oldest desert”. One theory is that diamond prospectors brought horses more than a century ago to since-abandoned mining fields.
Later the troops were bombed, Gold beck says, scattering the horses into the Najib coastal desert, where they remained. The horses are the lifeblood of the economy, drawing tourists who come to see them living amid inhospitable sand dunes and the barren plains of Garb.
The future of the herd rests on a few precious foals, yet only one, named Zohar, has survived to see its first birthday in the past seven years. In the early 1990s, a prolonged drought killed some horses (an event which brought Grazing to Au's).
Hyenas have been responsible for scores of horse deaths, but complicating matters, the problem predator is also in danger. In early 2019 the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) reported it had killed three hyenas thought to have preyed on foals, after attempts to relocate them had failed.
“The last few weeks (felt) like we have the place to ourselves again,” says Christine Swingers, secretary of the Namibia Wild Horse Foundation. When visitors return, they will hopefully be able to see Zohar and this year's new foals -- six at the time of writing, according to Grazing.
Dog is called man’s best friend, but throughout history the horse has played a pivotal part, from warfare and hunting, to transport, to agriculture, to sport and recreation; the horse has contributed more to human pleasure, ambition and progress than any other animal. These populations formed due to horses that escaped for instance from army war camps or failed human settlements.
At the far northern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range in South Africa lies the quaint village of Kaapsehoop (Apache Hoop) and the surrounding escarpment, known for its spectacular scenic environment, its fascinating rock fields, mysterious mist, the Blue Swallow Reserve, its history of gold discovery and its own legacy of wild horses. For the true wild horses along the escarpment are as elusive as the gold once found in this region; their origin as vague as the outline of the mountains when the mist rolls over the plains.
The open cast gold mining has not only left its impact on the environment, but moreover remains a danger to the herds, as horses are still found from time to time, having fallen into these open pits. The tar road that was built in the mid 1980s has probably had the biggest impact on the safety of the horses as it crosses right through the center of their natural habitat.
In spite of clear road signs and warnings, many horses are involved in car accidents. Snaring as well as the odd poaching and traditional medicine related killings, further jeopardize the peaceful existence of these free roaming creatures.
Snare wounds and other injuries need treatment and at times this includes the darting of these animals, a costly affair. Orphans are often found left alone, either having lost their mothers to fatal causes e.g. road accidents, predators and snares, or being caught up between stallion and mares in the mating rituals.
For them to have any hope to survive, man needs to intervene, however this means hand-rearing these foals which is not only a costly exercise but also involves valuable time. In order to help preserve this legacy The Wild Horse Trust Fund was established.
This book is a tribute to the spirit of the wild herds of horses ; a mere glimpse on the richness of their elusive existence. The pages are filled with a wide range of about 160 photos as well as text describing their background, their daily existence, their threats, their future, but mostly their splendor and beauty.
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There are no known predators of feral horses in Australia, although it is possible that dingoes or wild dogs occasionally take foals. On average, 20% of the feral horse population dies each year, mainly from drought, poisonous plants and parasites.
The maximum possible rate that feral horse numbers can increase is 20–25% per year. The first recorded use in print in 1871 has the connotation of an inferior or worthless animal, and culling of feral horses as a pest soon became known as crumby shooting.
The Australasian magazine from Melbourne in 1880 said that rubies were the bush name in Queensland for wild horses. In 1885, the Once a Month magazine suggested that rubies was a New South Wales term, and the poet Banjo Paterson stated in the introduction for his poem Crumby's Run published in the Bulletin in 1894 that crumby is the Aboriginal word for a wild horse.
An Aboriginal word barony meaning wild in the language of the Pillar Indigenous Australians on the Warren and Logo Rivers in southern Queensland. A letter in 1896 to the Sydney Morning Herald says that Barbie is the word for horse among the Aboriginal people of the Bayonne, Nine, Warren and Bullied Rivers.
Marimba, which was the name of a creek and station in the Queensland district of Burnett, established in the 1840s and later abandoned, leaving many of the horses to escape into the wild. It has also been suggested that the name derives from the Irish word broach or brownish, meaning colt “.
Earlier nineteenth-century terms for wild horses in rural Australia included clear-skins and scrubbers. They were imported for farm and utility work; recreational riding and racing were not major activities.
Horse racing became popular around 1810, resulting in an influx of Thoroughbred imports, mostly from England. Roughly 3,500 horses were living in Australia by 1820, and this number had grown to 160,000 by 1850, largely due to natural increase.
The long journey by sea from England, Europe, and Asia meant that only the strongest horses survived the trip, making for a particularly healthy and strong Australian stock, which aided in their ability to flourish. Horses were likely confined primarily to the Sydney region until the early 19th century, when settlers first crossed the Blue Mountains and opened expansion inland.
Horses were required for travel, and for cattle and sheep driving as the pastoral industry grew. This may have been the result of naturalists abandoning their settlements, and thus their horses, due to the arid conditions and unfamiliar land that combined to make farming in Australia especially difficult.
Throughout the 20th century, the replacement of horses with machines in farming led to further reductions in demand, and may have also contributed to increases in feral populations. It is also estimated that, during non- drought periods, the feral horse population increases at a rate of 20 percent per year.
Despite population numbers, feral horses are generally considered to be a moderate pest. Where they are allowed to damage vegetation and cause erosion, the impact on the environment is significant, and for that reason can be considered a serious environmental threat.
However, because they also have cultural and potential economic value, the management of rubies presents a complex issue. Rubies roaming in the Australian Alps of south -eastern Australia are thought to be descendants of horses which were owned by the pastorals and pioneer, Benjamin Boyd.
On the coast south of Geraldton, Western Australia the rubies there are known as “Hangar ponies”, as they appear to carry the rare Hangar gene. The gene causes lightening in parts of a horse's coat, resulting in a mealy-coloured muzzle, forearms, flanks, and the belly.
The Department of Environment and Conservation and the Outback Heritage Horse Association of Western Australia (Oshawa) are monitoring these particular rubies to ensure the careful management of these unusual feral horses. This crumby was used as a safe and reliable mount for a rider who was in her 70s. Brumbies have been captured, fitted with GPS tracking collars, and used in extensive comparative research into the effect of terrain on the morphology and health of different horses hooves.
They have their paths of movement, diet, watering patterns, and mob structure tracked and recorded. Encouraging viewing of feral herds may also have potential as a tourist attraction.
Rubies are sometimes sold into the European horse meat market after their capture, and contribute millions of dollars to the Australian economy. Approximately 30% of horses for meat export originates from the feral population.
Their environmental impact may include soil loss, compaction, and erosion; trampling of vegetation; reduction in the vastness of plants; increased tree deaths by chewing on bark; damage to bog habitats and waterholes; spreading of invasive weeds; and various detrimental effects on population of native species. In some cases, when feral horses are startled, they may damage infrastructure, including troughs, pipes, and fences.
However, rubies are also credited for helping keep tracks and trails clear for bush walkers and service vehicles in some areas. Horse trampling also has the potential to damage waterways and bog habitats.
Trampling near streams increases runoff, reducing the quality of the water and causing harm to the ecosystem of the waterway. Alpine areas, such as those of Kosciusko National Park, are at particular risk; low-growing alpine flora is highly vulnerable to trampling, and the short summers mean little time for plants to grow and recover from damage.
Erosion in the limestone kart areas leads to runoff and silting. Sphagnum moss is an important component of highland bogs, and is trampled by horses seeking water.
Exposure of soil caused by trampling and vegetation removal via grazing, combined with increased nutrients being recycled by horse dung, favor weed species, which then invade the region and overtake native species, diminishing their diversity. Although the effects of the weeds that actually germinate after transfer via dung is debated, the fact that many weed species are dispersed via this method is of concern to those interested in the survival of native plant species in Australia.
They consume the already threatened and limited vegetation, and their negative influences are more widespread. This has occurred during drought, among eucalyptus species on the Red Range plateau.
Feral horse grazing is also linked to a decline in reptiles and amphibians due to habitat loss. In addition, the grazing and trampling near waterways influences aquatic fauna.
In areas frequented by horses, crab densities are higher, increasing the propensity for predation on fish. As a result, fish densities decline as the removal of vegetation renders them more susceptible to predation.
When horses are removed, signs of the presence of various macro pods, specifically the black-footed rock wallaby, increase. Thus, competition with horses may be the reason for the decline in macro pod populations in certain areas.
This can lead to high fatalities among domestic populations, causing many farmers to call for the management of feral horses. Currently, management attempts to vary, as feral horses are considered pests in some states, such as South Australia, but not others, including Queensland.
The primary argument in favor of the removal of rubies is that they impact on fragile ecosystems and damage and destroy endangered native flora and fauna. Public concern is a major issue in control efforts as many advocates for the protection of rubies, including the Aboriginal people, who believe feral horses belong to the country.
While some animal welfare groups such as the ASPCA reluctantly accept culling, other organizations such as Save the Rubies oppose lethal culling techniques and attempt to organize relocation of the animals instead. Meanwhile, conservationist groups, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, favor humane culling as a means of control because of the damage crumby overpopulation can cause to native flora and fauna, but are also generally opposed to various means of extermination.
None of the methods provide complete freedom from suffering for the horses, and the cost of each is very high. The costs include those that are economic, such as research, equipment purchases, and labor expenditures, as well as moral concerns over the welfare of the horses.
Fertility control is a non-lethal method of population management that is usually viewed as the most humane treatment, and its use is supported by the ASPCA. Because it is costly and difficult to treat animals repeatedly, this method, despite being ideal, is not widely implemented.
Shooting by trained marksmen is considered to be the most practical method of control due to its effectiveness. The NSW Department of Primary Industries believe shooting is the preferred method of population control as it does not subject the horses to the stresses of mustering, Harding, and long-distance transportation, all of which are related to 'capture and removal' methods.
Horses that are only initially wounded from shooting are tracked and dispatched if they are in accessible, open country. Crumble advocacy groups do not consider mountain shooting to be humane.
This method is considered the most effective and cost-efficient means of control, but disapproval is high amongst those that believe it is inhumane. Organizations supporting rubies argue that aerial shooting is unnecessary and that alternative population control methods have not been given adequate trials, while government officials express concern about the need to control rapidly growing populations in order to avoid ecological problems associated with too many feral horses in certain areas.
Mustering is a labour-intensive process that results in one of two major outcomes: slaughter for sale, or relocation. It may be assisted by feed-luring in which bales of hay are strategically placed to attract feral horses to a location where capture is feasible.
Complicating this process is low demand for the captured horses, making it less desirable than fertility control or shooting, which reduce the population without having to find alternative locations for them. As a result of the public outcry that followed the NSW Government established a steering committee to investigate alternative methods of control.
This was a result of a public outcry to a previously proposed plan by South Australia's Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cull all animals in the park. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service commenced a plan in 2007 to reduce crumby numbers by passive trapping in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
Rubies are considered a part of Australia's colonial history and as such their historic legacy is as politically controversial as their biological impact. Supporters of crumby preservation, especially those who live in rural areas, consider them an integral part of their culture and heritage.
Others view them as a vestige of colonization, reflecting the dispossession of Aboriginal people's land stewardship and culture. “Australia's wild desert horses : 'This environment tests them to their limits “.
Groups of up to a dozen with a protective stallion... ^ Debbie, W. R., Berman, D. M., & Brasher, M. L. (1993). ^ Churches, Steve; Par oz, Gina; Markup, Anna (2016), Invasive animal risk assessment: Feral horse, Equus Catullus (PDF), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries: Bio security Queensland ^ “Definition of “Crumby ".
2, p. 170, “Crumby”, Halstead Press, Sydney, 1963 ^ Morris, p.58 ^ a b c d e Debbie, W. R., Berman, D. M., & Brasher, M. L. (1993) “Managing vertebrate pests: Feral horses.” ^ a b c d e f g h i Jimmy, Dale Game; Miller, Kelly K. (2007) Ecological and human dimensions of management of feral horses in Australia: A review.
^ Dawson, M. J., Lane, C. & Saunders, G. (2006) Proceedings of the National Feral Horse Management Workshop, Retrieved 9 May 2008 from http://www.invasiveanimals.com/downloads/FeralHorse_web.pdf ^ Eberhardt, L. L.; Majorowicz, A. K.; Wilcox, J. In Biological invasions: Economic and environmental costs of alien plant, animal, and microbe species.
“History of Wild Horses in the Barman National Park” (PDF). ^ The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival Retrieved 200-12-16 ^ The Land Magazine, p. 3, 19 June 2008, Rural Press, North Richmond, NSW ^ Pest Animal Control CRC.
^ Watch News, p.6, 17 July 2008, Rural Press ^ a b Albeck-Ripka, Livia; Abbott, Matthew (28 June 2020). ^ Beaver, E. A., and Herrick, J. E. (2006) Effects of feral horses in Great Basin landscapes on soils and ants: direct and indirect mechanisms.
“The effect of seeds of exotic species transported via horse dung on vegetation along trail corridors”. ^ Bark Chewing on Red Range plateau, GFR NP: “Archived copy” (PDF).
CS1 main: archived copy as title (link) ^ a b Kevin, P. S.; Ellis, J.; Patrick, R.; Hay, M. E. (2002). “A herpetofauna survey of the Victorian alpine region, with a review of threats to these species”.
^ Matthews, D., Bryan, R., and Edwards, G. (2001) Recovery of the black-footed rock-wallaby following horse removal on Fine Gorge National Park, Northern Territory. In Jimmy (2007) ^ Burke's Backyard: Horse Culling Retrieved 2009-12-1-23 ^ Environment ACT 2007, Named National Park Feral Horse Management Plan ^ Jimmy, D. G., Miller, K., & Adams, R. (2007).
“Managing feral horses in Victoria: A study of community attitudes and perceptions”. “The politics of feral horse management in Guy Fawkes River National Park, NSW”.
Model code of practice for the humane control of feral horses. ^ The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) spoke out about the Guy Fawkes River National Park Crumby cull: http://www.brumbywatchaustralia.com/GFRNP-AVA_speaks.htm Archived 21 August 2006 at Archive.today ^ Houghton, DES.
^ ABC News: “Cull cuts Carnation Gorge crumby numbers” Retrieved 2009-12-19 ^ “Man from Snowy River” poem by Banjo Peterson ^ Prentice, Jeff. Viewpoint: On Books for Young Adults Volume 10, Number 3, Spring 2002”.
Totally wild, they roamed the river area, decimating precious grazing until farmers rounded them up or shot them. Today, descendants of the herd splash through the lagoon or canter between sand dunes, running wild, kicking up water droplets that glint like diamonds.
Hectically busy with visiting birds, a few were grazing along the shoreline close to the mouth of the lagoon. As the sun transformed the water from charcoal to crimson six of us set off from Diamond harbor in three double canoes.
The lagoon is a great place for beginner paddlers because they have the advantage of not rowing against strong wind and the hindrance of swell and tides. Seagulls squawked and waves crashed behind sand dunes as we continued beneath a wooden footbridge.
The beach is rated as blue flag, which means that it meets excellence in areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards. The Blue Flag campaign is international, run by the Foundation for Environmental Education and has strict criteria which is checked regularly.
About six of them, some grazing while others waded towards us, unfazed by our presence, drinking and nibbling aquatic vegetation. Meanwhile, fish eagles called from a dead branch poking through the water, competing for attention.
We sat for some time, watching the horses wading deeper into the water, brazen, coming closer. Time to move on, the water low, we dragged the boats across sandbanks into various watercourses, some leading nowhere, to a wall of dense reeds.
Backpedaling we retraced the way to explore other channels, sometimes pulling and pushing through reeds accompanied by much puffing. There appeared to be no way through and so climbing out of the canoes we set off to explore on foot all the time keeping our distance from the horses.
Into a deep pool, watched by the older horse, the foal’s head poking from the water. Almost hidden in long grass it raised its head once, appearing sickly, at death’s door, while adult horses menacingly stood guard.
We lay there for a long time, reluctant to leave, debating whether to continue or give up on our quest and return. Leading to an open area we followed a route probably made by the horses, passing through dense reeds and alien Port Jackson before climbing a sand dune to the highest point.
With Olivier Lagoon nowhere in sight we gave up and headed back to Diamond harbor only to be caught in a strong north-westerly wind.