EQUINE WAR­RIORS

Amaz­ing pho­to­graphs as the brumbies of the Kosciusko fight for their sur­vival.

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - BEN PIKE

YOUNG brumby stal­lions joust­ing among the ghost gums will re­main part of the Snowy Moun­tains land­scape af­ter the NSW deputy premier vowed to save the wild horses, in­clud­ing a fa­mous herd dubbed the Grey Mob.

Led by 10-year-old sil­ver stal­lion Pale­face, the Grey Mob has been the tar­get of traps set by the Of­fice of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage in the Kosciuszko Na­tional Park’s north­ern re­gion, ac­cord­ing to brumby sup­port­ers.

The traps are be­ing used in the gov­ern­ment cull of the leg­endary in­tro­duced an­i­mals from the 6900sq/km Kosciuszko Na­tional Park’s frag­ile en­vi­ron­ment.

But Deputy Premier John Bari- laro will ef­fec­tively make the horses a pro­tected species un­der a new brumby man­age­ment plan that has been sit­ting on the shelf since 2015.

Asked if he will in­ter­vene to pre­vent the re­moval of the herd, known as the Grey Mob or The Mob, which leads to ei­ther their re­hom­ing on pri­vate prop­erty, or more likely, their slaugh­ter, he said: “Ab­so­lutely.”

“I don’t want to see the slaugh­ter of those horses,” Mr Bar­i­laro said. “If those horses are trapped they should be moved around to the parts of the park that we recog­nise can have horses.

“There is a lot of emo­tional con­nec­tion to Pale­face and The Mob. There are lots of beau­ti­ful pho­tos of The Mob and I think that would be a trav­esty, on the eve of an­nounc­ing plan of man­age­ment, that those horses were de­stroyed.”

While some horses are sold off af­ter they are trapped, many are sent to the abat­toir.

Mr Bar­i­laro’s move would ef­fec­tively leave Pale­face to roam free un­til the end of his nat­u­ral life.

Mr Bar­i­laro said un­der the new Wild­horse Man­age­ment Plan aerial culling, where brumbies are shot from a he­li­copter would be “a method of last re­sort”. Shoot­ing has been ad­vo­cated by green groups as the most hu­mane way to cull the an­i­mals. The cur­rent method, where the horses are lured with mo­lasses and then loaded onto trucks, can of­ten re­sult in of­ten fa­tal in­juries.

Mr Bar­i­laro, whose Monaro elec­torate is held by a slen­der 2 per cent mar­gin, also in­di­cated that the brumby pop­u­la­tion will most likely hover around 5000.

An of­fi­cial re­port es­ti­mated there were be­tween 4000 and 8000 horses in the park in 2014. En­vi­ron­men­tal groups ad­vo­cate slashing the pop­u­la­tion to about 300 be­cause of the dam­age they cause.

“When you are set­ting tar­gets of only leav­ing 300 horses in the park, you are talk­ing about wip­ing them out,” Mr Bar­i­laro said.

“But peo­ple do recog­nise the her­itage value of the brumbies. There is a con­nec­tion for any­one in my re­gion and broadly I think, across Aus­tralia.

“That con­nec­tion is not just be­cause of Banjo Paterson and the Man from Snowy River and all the emo­tion at­tached to that, there is a gen­uine be­lief that they are part of the land­scape.

Cooma pho­tog­ra­pher Paul McIver cap­tured just that im­agery when he pho­tographed Pale­face’s son Bo­gong play fight­ing around Kian­dra on An­zac Day.

Pale­face’s son Bo­gong test­ing his strength against an­other young brumby stal­lion near Kian­dra. Pic­ture: Paul McIver

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