Before the 17th century, no horses existed in southern Africa, but in the 1600s they appeared in Namibia, possibly imported by Europeans. At first, these horses were probably used for work of some kind, but just like the horses in the Americas, some escaped and formed feral herds. Eventually, most of the horses had escaped and began roaming the Namib Desert.
Exactly how the horses brought over by Europeans adapted to the arid desert weather is unknown, though scientists in Africa have observed how they survive today. The Namib horses rarely drink at all, only hydrating themselves every 30 hours in the summer(November to March) while they search for food. During the rainy season, the horses gather near the water trough and feed on the grass during the night, drinking regularly throughout the day. At daytime, they play and relax. Sometimes, they will eat their own dung for extra nutrients.
|A Namib mare and her foal. credit|
In 1992, a drought caused people to want to gather the horses and put them on farms. Six years later, another drought, this one lasting nearly two years, cause the number of Namibs to drop from 149 to 89. by April 2005, the number had risen to 147.
Today, the herds reside in Naukluft Park, nearby Aus, where visitors can learn about the Namib and hide nearby the water hole so they can watch the horses drink.
Breed Description and Uses
Namibs, though not conmsidered ponies, stand an average of 14.2 hands high, with few growing as tall as 15 hands high. Like the mustangs of Western American, the appearance of the Namib may vary. Typically, though, they are sturdy with a narrow chest, prominent withers, short necks and large, convex profiles, complete with large ears and wide-set eyes. Commonly, the Namib is chestnut.
For the time being, the Namibs will remain feral, but if their numbers exceed the maximum number of 200 horses, some will be rounded up and brought somewhere else. Until them, the horses will continue to wander the desert.
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