Dutch Grazers help rewilding Cantrabrian Mountains

FREE Nature donates animals to Spanish project

Wed. 19 – 12 – ‘12


Wednesday the 19th of December a group of 27 konik horses, owned by FREE Nature, left for the Cantabrian Mountains. They will be introduced into a unique wilderness project, where they will join a number of other wild herbivores.

The animals, together with koniks form the Groninger Landschap and koniks and Heck cattle for Belgium, donated by the Flemish ministry and wildlife park Han sur Lesse, will be re-introduced into a rewilding area of 1,750 hectares. The entire project in initiated by Joep van de Vlasakker of Flaxfield Nature Consultancy, together with Spanish partners. Earlier this year a group of wisents or European bison was introduced into the area. During his search for wild horses, Joep contacted FREE Nature.

The konik horses are transported in their own social groups. In total FREE Nature donates two harems. We choose this approach because it’s the most ethical method. By moving the animals in their own groups, we avoid that the animals have to reestablish their social order during transport or in their new environment. Older experience leading animals take care that change into their new habitat will be as smooth as possible.

The animals from the Netherlands and Belgium contribute to a open landscape and a unique European wilderness experience. Over the last decennia many farmers together with their livestock left the area. The lack of animals led to forest encroachment and threatened the high biodiversity of the area, mainly linked to open landscapes. The re-introduction of wild grazers puts a hold on the forest encroachment and will lead to a varied semi open landscape. Besides mentioned species the area is home to wild species such as Iberian Ibex, moufflon, chamois, roe deer and wild boar. Also bears, wolf and several species of vultures can be found. Re-introduction of species such as red and fallow deer and wild ass are planned for the near future. Over the next couple of years the entire reserve will grown to an approximate 5,700 hectare. Such a unique collection of indigenous wild species can’t be found nowhere else within Europe!