Princes’ Islands horses kept in inadequate quarantine conditions: Activists
Fatma Aksu – ISTANBUL
Animal rights activists were allowed to observe the barns in which some 1,100 horses are kept under quarantine in the Princes’ Islands off Istanbul after 105 of them were killed due to glanders, an infectious disease that occurs primarily in horses and can be contracted by humans and other animals.
“The horses are being kept in scratchy barracks, which cannot be defined as barns. We have detected that the necessary disinfection processes are not done, and there are no veterinarians and stable personnel to care after the horses,” said Onur Kıvrak from the animal rights group Hayvan Özgürlüğü Kolektifi (Animals’ Freedom Collective) on Dec. 30.
“The present quarantine conditions are inadequate to support health, safety and comfort of the horses. We demand the horses to be taken away from the islands,” he added.
The mayor of the district of Adalar, which consists of the five inhabited islands, recently vowed to replace horse-drawn carriages with electric vehicles.
“We will solve the public transport problems with silent and environment-friendly electric vehicles with a capacity of carrying 15 to 20 people,” Erdem Gül, the mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told daily Hürriyet on Dec. 24.
He also said that some 35-40 traditional coaches will also keep serving because they have been a symbol of the Princes’ Islands, which have a total population of around 16,000 but draw tens of thousands of tourists every day during the summer season.
“Halting the coaches is the small part of the issue. The main issue is to restore the well-being of the horses. They need both physical and psychological rehabilitation,” said Funda Gül Özerdem, one the animal rights activists who set up a protest camp in front of the Istanbul Municipality headquarters in the district of Fatih a month ago.
On Dec. 20, the Istanbul Governor’s Office announced its decision to prohibit the use of horse carriages for three months.
The owners of the killed horses will also face some penalties as the governor said necessary complaints will be filed to the prosecutor’s office on grounds of “putting human, animal and environmental health in danger.”
Animal rights groups have been demanding the halt of the horse-drawn carriage services for many years, saying that more than 1,000 horses on the islands are mistreated and dozens of them die each year due to lack of adequate veterinary services and being forced to pull carriages on the uphill asphalt roads under the scorching sun.