Animal rights activists launch campaign against use of coach horses on Princes' islands
The number of horse carriage accidents has risen over the years, as conducters rush to drive their passengers in order to secure more trips. These accidents often injure the horses and are sometimes even fatal. DHA PhotoAnimal rights activists demonstrated over the weekend against the use of coach horses on Istanbul’s Princes' Islands, launching a campaign to raise awareness about deaths of the horses and their poor conditions.
The condition of the horses used for the traditional carriages, particularly in the four inhabited islands where motor vehicles are banned, has long been criticized, with rights groups denouncing negligence and abuse for years.
“Every year, more than 400 horses die in ‘coach horse accidents.’ When winter comes, many of them are left hungry and cold in the high altitude parts of the islands, as their maintenance is seen as inconvenient. However, the number of horses that die from hunger, cold and diseases is not recorded,” the activist group said in a public statement on the island of Büyükada on July 20.
The Istanbul Municipality stepped back from removing the horse carriages from the Princes' Islands following heated debates two years ago, but vowed to reduce their number.
This reduction has apparently not occurred yet, but the demonstrating group’s statement argued that reducing the number would not be a permanent solution anyway, instead calling for an end to the practice.
The horse carriages have become a mode of transportation identified with the Princes' Islands and a profitable business for many in recent years, particularly during the summer season when the small islands on the Marmara Sea are one of the favorite destinations of Istanbulites and tourists alike.
The horses are kept in restricted spaces and in poor sanitary conditions, and are made to work very long hours. Residents of the four inhabited islands – Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada - also stress the insufficiency of the medical treatment given to the horses, as well as the lack of veterinarians and shelters.
Animal rights activists have also launched the hashtag #FaytonaBinmeAtlarÖlüyor (Don’t use coach horses, horses are dying) on social media to raise awareness of the issue.