‘Extreme conditions’ increase horse deaths: District governor

‘Extreme conditions’ increase horse deaths: District governor

Umut Erdem – ANKARA
‘Extreme conditions’ increase horse deaths: District governor

Grueling, long touristic routes and squalid conditions have increased the number of horse deaths on the Princes’ Islands off Istanbul, the district governor told a parliamentary commission.

Mustafa Ayhan, governor of Adalar district that encompasses the car-free Istanbul islands, last week hosted a parliamentary delegation led by Tekirdağ Deputy Mustafa Yel, chair of the commission investigating animal rights.

“It has been observed that horse deaths have increased in recent years, and it is caused by overuse of the horses and using them under poor conditions,” Ayhan said, according to the meeting minutes.

“One reason for this situation is that the tourists are taken on a 12-kilometer tour route,” he said.

Daily transportation relies on two main roads on Büyükada, the largest of the six inhabited islands. The 8-kilometer-long route is usually preferred by tourists, but they can opt for the longer route surrounding the island for a higher price.

Hot weather and steep slopes often leave coach horses exhausted, and the unhealthy ones collapse, according to animal rights activists.

There are more than 1,200 horses on the archipelago. Some carriage owners abandon the old and weaker horses in forested areas after the number of tourists tapers off at beginning of the winter season.

“Abandoned or dead horses can be found in the forested area. When they die, the staff members of the district directorate of agriculture or the local municipality bury them there,” said Ayhan, adding that there is not an animal cemetery on the islands.

He also revealed some details of the meetings held at the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to seek a solution to the problems caused by the treatment of the horses used for the horse-drawn coaches.

The transportation authorities of the metropolitan municipality are planning to replace the horse-drawn coaches with electric cars and rail systems, according to Ayhan’s remarks.

A limited number of horse-drawn coaches can continue serving tourists only around the main square of Büyükada, he said.

“Thus, we will keep the nostalgic horse-drawn carriages, prevent traffic chaos and solve the problem of overuse of horses,” he added.

Adalar district mayor Erdem Gül said on June 26 that he will meet with the newly elected Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in the upcoming days to discuss the issue of the horse-pulled carriages. They will also speak with the association of the coachmen, he said.

Some 800 horses die due to accidents or squalid conditions every year, animal rights activist Elif Ertürk Narin told the parliamentary commission in May.