Horses are being left to fend for themselves as owners flee to escape the violent conflict in Zimbabwe
According to the Cape Town-based Zimbabwe Pet Rescue Project, hundreds of horses have been left to fend for themselves as their white owners are forced to flee the country.
Since 25 June, more than 3,000 white landowners have been issued with government notices to cease farming activities and leave their homes by 10August.
White farmers have been subject to attacks on themselves and their properties from war veterans, who have taken into their own hands the campaign to redistribute land owned by whites.
Many have already fled the violenceand while they have sometimes been able to take cats and dogs with them, larger animals, including livestock and horses, have either been abandoned or entrusted to those left behind.
“I’ve kept horses and dogs all my life, so what I saw on TV reports of the conflict shocked me beyond belief, even in South Africa, where husbandry often leaves much to be desired,” said Steve Walters, spokesperson for Zimbabwe Pet Rescue Project
Cruel treatment for abandoned horses
Animals remaining on farms have often been subjected to appalling cruelty by the war veterans or have suffered from neglect.
Steve Walters also reports that war veterans have set fire to paddocks while horses were still in them, resulting in horrific burns.
Twenty horses were rescued from the farm of Terry Ford, the murdered farmer whose terrier Squeak famously refused to leave his corpse.
At another farm a foalwas found with a snare around his neck. Named Merlin, he is being treated by the ZNSPCA (Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has pledged $10,000 to ZNSPCA, and provided them with a four-wheel drive vehicle.
While a number of sanctuaries have been set up to take horses and ponies and a few have been rehomed, some have already been euthanased.
Donations and a grant from the World Societyfor the Protection of Animals have funded the appointment of a senior inspector Mark Manhuwa, who will work alongside Meryl Harrison of the ZNSPCA.
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