170 carriage horses died in 2019 on Princes’ Islands: Report
A total of 170 carriage horses died in the first eight-and-a-half months of 2019 on Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands, daily Cumhuriyet has reported, citing the official figures of the Islands (“Adalar” in Turkish) Municipality.
The carcasses of most of the horses that died on Büyükada, the largest island of the archipelago, are buried in an area adjacent to the municipality land located in front of the Aya Nikola Church, said the daily in a report on Sept. 16.
But it is known that horses are buried without officials at places near barns being notified in old garbage dump areas or forest areas. And when this unofficial figure adds to the official figure, the actual number of horses that die is in fact much higher than recorded.
Apart from natural deaths and glanders, a contagious and fatal disease in horses, the main reason of the horse deaths stems from overworking, the spokesperson of the NGO Islands Defense (“Adalar Savunması” in Turkish), Ömer Süvari, was quoted as saying by the daily.
Süvari said that the number of carriage horses on the islands amounts to about 500 in the winter, whereas it goes up to over 1,000 in summer months, when tourists flock to the islands. He said that as the Horse-Drawn Carriages Chamber had announced previously, at least 400 new horses are transferred to the islands every year. “This means that new ones are being taken instead of the ones that died in the previous season or the ones that can no longer work,” said Süvari.
The head of the Horse-Drawn Carriages Chamber, Hıdır Ünal, said that the number of horses per square meter was the highest on the Princes’ Islands in the world, but still there was no veterinary allocated for carriage horses, ambulance or a horse hospital on the islands. He said that there was a single veterinary working for the district directorate of Agriculture and Forestry Ministry on the Princes’ Islands, but this person did not have expertise in animals but strays in general, daily Cumhuriyet reported.
The capacity of horse barns built by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality on the islands is 140, Ünal said, adding that horse-carriage owners working in Heybeliada and Burgazada had barns built with their own means. These latter barns have been in bad condition, Ünal said.
In 2017, due to glanders, the authorities banned the entry of new horses into the islands. But, despite this ban, many people, including Ünal, have confirmed that the horse entries continue.
The poor conditions of the horses on the islands have been a widely-discussed topic for years, with several footage showing horses collapsing and falling to the ground due to exhaustion.
Animal rights activists have stressed the horses suffer extremely, saying the carriages eventually lead to the death of many horses.
Activists have staged several protests previously, calling for an immediate ban on the use of horse-drawn carriages. They demand electric cars be used instead.