Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sorraia Foals at Quinta do Sol

A young wild living Sorraia filly on Manitoulin Island c.2010
In 2010, here on the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve, two fillies were born whose lives have proven to be filled with historic adventures in faraway lands.  

Click on each filly's name to read about their births from the Journal of Ravenseyrie archives.
Tocara (Altamiro x Belina)

Tocara and Belina

Levada (Altamiro x Sovina's Zorita)


Sired by the Portuguese Sorraia, Altamiro, (who himself came to Manitoulin Island as a yearling from a zoological park in Germany where he was born) the fillies, Tocara and Levada are fine examples of the beneficial outcross to North American Mustang mares who show the Sorraia phenotype.  Tocara and Levada were selected by Claudia Radbauer to become part of her efforts to preserve Sorraia type horses in Austria providing her with several healthy foals sired by the Portuguese Sorraia, Grelo.  Last year Tocara and Levada were sent to a new conservation project overseen by the Associação Transumâcia e Natureza in northeastern Portugal.  

After spending the majority of 2017 receiving the amorous attention of a Sorraia stallion, Bimbo, (donated to the preservation project by Herdade do Azinhal) and despite going through a frightening period of drought and threat of wildfires, Tocara and Levada have presented ATN with healthy new foals, both colts!  These are indeed fit and hardy equines and definitely adaptable to a variety of wilderness environments - from the bitter cold of Northern Canada to the arid hills of Portugal!  

While it appears the preserve at Quinta do Sol is receiving good rainfall to assist in regenerating the vegetation, the land presently available to these Sorraias remains limited.  Until more acreage can be acquired for this project, there may still be a need from time to time to supplement the forage with hay, should there come again a frightful drought.  Those able to assist in any way are urged to contact ATN: https://www.facebook.com/faiabrava/posts/10155083833528014 

And now for some lovely images from Quinta do Sol!  Tocara and Levada...I am blowing a kiss in the wind and instructing it to find you from here to there!  We miss you and are so proud of your achievements.  

And we are immeasurably thankful to Claudia Radbauer and ATN for the good work they are doing to carry on with the preservation of one of the precious wild equine types of the Iberian Peninsula.

Three new foals in one week at Quinta do Sol preserve
in northeastern Portugal
(photo: ATN)

Left: Tocara with her filly, Epona, and newborn colt
Right:  Levada with her newborn colt
(photo:  ATN)

Tocara with her two offspring
(photo: ATN

Levada with her colt and a Garrano x Sorraia mare with her colt
(photo: ATN)

Tocara (Altamiro x Belina)
formerly of Ravenseyrie, with her newborn colt
at Quinta do Sol preserve in Portugal
(photo: ATN)

Levada (Altamiro x Sovina's Zorita)
formerly of Ravenseyrie, with her newborn colt
at Quinta do Sol preserve in Portugal
(photo: ATN)

Tocara and colt
(photo: ATN)

Sorraias at Quinta do Sol
(photo: ATN)

More about Tocara and Levada's early life on Manitoulin Island can be experienced by clicking on these links to archived stories in the Journal of Ravenseyrie:

Tocara and Levada


"Who would we be without the horse?  What was our horse's ancestor and does he still exist? [...] What once was one of Man's most important companions has nowadays been reduced to a luxury item and a sports equipment.  And the ancestral populations?  Gone!  What do we know about them? Very little!  Otherwise, extant wild populations would not be cause for a constant dispute among scientists.

"If we want to keep our planet worth living on in its diversity and endless facets of life, we must try to preserve the genetic diversity of all living species.  In this context it is almost secondary if a population is 'wild' or 'feral'.  Wild horses are adapted to their habitat, in which some have lived for centuries.  Each adaptation represents a contribution to that big cocktail we call diversity of life."
--Dr. Thomas Jansen, from the foreword of Wildpferde Gestern und Heute by Hardy Oelke

Mares and foals at Ravenseyrie c. 2010

 Heritage Futures:  offers a good summary of the Associação Transumâcia e Natureza 

Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN) is a non profit environmental NGO, created in 2000, at Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Guarda District, in the northeastern part of Portugal. The name comes from an international foundation (Transhumance and Nature Foundation), which was one of the founders. The name is a reference to the extinct activity of transhumance – an old tradition of shepherds, who brought the flocks of sheep a long way, in order to take advantage of pasture land at different altitudes and times of the year. Owning around 800 hectares of land at the Côa Valley, ATN is the manager of the Faia Brava Reserve, the first private protected area in Portugal, located inside the Côa Valley SPA (Natura 2000) and the Côa Archaeological Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site). ATN owns and manages several other reserves in the Northeast of Portugal and is the Portuguese local partner of the Rewilding Europe initiative. Our researchers will work with Association of the Friends of Côa Park and Côa Museum (ACOA) to study the objectives of a large-scale rewilding project, with specific attention to the management of (abandoned) built heritage within the designated area.

"Whether as zoological gems, genetic resources, important ecological factors, objects for ethological studies, or as pure inspiration - wild horses are always and everywhere of great value.  What many would not give today to be able to lay eyes on Tarpans in the steppe of southern Russia!
     "We may not fully understand what treasure we still have in our surviving primitive horses.  Their protection should be a matter of course."  
--Hardy Oelke from Wild Horses Then and Now