Horses left behind by their owners obeying President Mugabe’s eviction orders are at risk of further suffering at the hands of the farm’s new tenants.

The ZNSPCA (Zimbabwe NationalSociety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is facing its greatest challenge yet as they battle to rescue horses left behind on farms in Zimbabwe.

By last week, life had reached crisis point on one large stud farm where horseshave been confined to their stables for nearly three weeks.

Around 60 mares were being held in an area roughly the size of two tennis courts. Yearlings were being held in a dirt paddock in the centre of the yard, while mares and foals, plus two stallions were confined to their boxes.

The stud’s grooms were under intense pressure from war veterans not to look after the horses, but as Meryl Harrison from the ZNSPCA explains they continued to their best.

“The grooms were very good considering how much pressure they were under.”

“If the situation had been allowed to continue then the horses would have certainly begun to suffer. Although they were being fed and watered, there was no clean bedding available and conditions were quite cramped.”

Despite receiving death threats, Meryl continues to enter farms and properties held by war veterans.

“I am not interested in politics – my only concern is for the animals. Although I have received threats, I don’t let them worry me.”“I get on well with the genuine war vets, they understand that my only interest is for the animals. One war vet told me I am the only white woman he trusts.”

While the ZNSPCA struggles to cope with a huge influx of animals, Meryl says they have no option but to be practical:”We have to be realistic. The ZNSPCA doesn’t have the facilities or resources to rehome every horse. Instead any horses that are over 12 years-old, lame, ill or bad tempered are put to sleep.”

Given Zimbabwe’s current situation I can offer them a good death, but I can’t guarantee them a good life.”

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