Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sorraia Horses in the Côa Valley

Sorraia mare and foal
Côa River Valley, Portugal
photo: Facebook / Rewilding Western Iberia

Good news for the Sorraia horses in Portugal!  A new conservation initiative is underway in the Côa River Valley in North Eastern Portugal.

Côa Valley region
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Two pregnant mares originally from the Vale de Zebro preserve gave birth to two healthy foals this past October according to a photo announcement posted to the Rewilding Western Iberia Facebook "Timeline Photos" page

Hardy Oelke, a well know conservationist of Sorraia and Sorraia Mustang horses informed me back in January that an acquaintance of his from northeastern Portugal had purchased a Sorraia colt from one of the past gathers of the Vale de Zebro offspring and was due to acquire two Vale de Zebro mares.  Hardy relayed there has been some funding obtained to establish a small preserve for them.  Overflowing with excitement, I wrote the gentleman who is putting together this new Sorraia preserve and asked for an interview so that I might report the good news here in my blog in greater detail, but my letter did not receive a reply.  

After finding the wonderful (but too brief!) mention on the public Facebook page for Rewilding Western Iberia about those mares giving birth at their new location, I wrote again, using the contact information provided at the Rewilding Western Iberia website.  That query also has received no response.  Hardy has spoken with the gentleman again, however, and has given me the green light for sharing a bit more about the new preserve.

Two Sorraia mares with foals and a Sorraia stallion in the Côa Valley, Portugal
photo:  Facebook / Rewilding Western Iberia

Sorraia mare and foal in the Côa Valley, Portugal
photo:  Facebook / Rewilding Western Europe

This new Portuguese preservation effort for the Sorraia horses is presently set up on approximately 150 acres in the Côa River Valley, with the river running through it, and trees and is near the vicinity where prehistoric rock art has been found.  This sounds lovely and quite fitting!

Another Sorraia mare is destined to join this new group...this mare coming from the Wisentgehege zoological park in Springe, Germany where our own Sorraia stallion, Altamiro came from.

The Sorraia stallion, Altamiro, foundation sire of the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve

This is a promising opportunity for the Sorraia horses to gain further recognition from those organizations involved with "rewilding" initiatives in Europe and Great Britain - and maybe one day inspire similar projects here in North America.  The efforts of our Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve are limited without greater participation from other private landowners or organizations, specifically those with large tracts of suitable wilderness habitats.  When others here in Canada and the United States see fit to open up landscapes for "rewilding" and stocking them with Sorraias and Sorraia Mustangs, these types of horses are sure to remain iconically inspirational for future generations.  It is a dream I hold that I do believe will one day manifest itself.

I will continue to try to learn more about the new preservation efforts for the Sorraias in Portugal and report back as information is gathered.

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