The feral horse is found in many different habitats. One area
that they are a great pest is in the alpine regions of
Australia, south-east New South Wales and north-eastern
Victoria. This area is called the Ď
Kosciusko National Parkí and
is part of the Australian Alps. The Alps contains the highest
point in Australia, Mt. Kosciusko. Numbers of the horses in the
national park are around 3000 to 4000, and the approximate
number in Australia is 337 000 to 600 000. The number in the
Alps may not seem very threatening but only 1% of the Australian
land is alpine. But alpine is not the only land that feral
It is believed that there are no feral horses in Tasmania.
The horse is a very adaptable animal. It is due to this great ability to adapt that the animal is causing major problems in the Australian environment. They run wild in the desert areas, grasslands, tropical rainforests, and the famous Australian bush. Practically every type of terrain has feral horses in habitation. Australia has the biggest population of feral horses in the world. The Australian environment cannot support the rising number of feral horses. In drought they die a slow, painful death due to lack of water and food.
Aerial culling takes place every few years and is the most humane way to control the numbers. The RSPCA and other animal welfare groups claim that this isnít a humane way, but itís better than seeing the animals suffer. Feral or not, they donít deserve to starve and dehydrate to death.
On Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, just off the east coast of Queensland, there is a herd of feral horses. The islandís extremely delicate rainforest ecosystem cannot cope with much more than 20 so the National Parks and Wildlife Services hold an annual cull. Their previous numbers were as large as 200. They were introduced by the logging industry that used to be on the island. When logging ceased they let the horses go, thus creating the situation that is now currently on the island. These animals adapted to their environment, yet due to their sandy ground from where they obtained their food they ingested sand and it led to them having a very short life span of only approximately 8 years. Fraser Island is a World Heritage listed site. Loosing this sanctuary of rare native animals and plants to a few horses would be devastating.
It is believed that most of the feral horses in Australia are concentrated in central Australia. A feral horse can have a home range of approximately 70 square kilometres. The approximate population of feral horses in central Australia is 200 000. If conditions are favourable, and no control, horse populations can grow by 150 000 per year.