Istanbul Municipality rescued nearly 1200 horses from Princes’ Islands last year
Fatma Aksu – ISTANBUL
Following a ban of horse-drawn carriages in the Princes’ Islands, an archipelago of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality bought nearly 1200 horses and rehomed over 800 last year.
The Princes’ Islands, sitting in Turkey’s Marmara Sea, draws great attention of tourists every year, and the only means of transport to explore the insides of the islands before the municipality installed electric cars last year were horse-drawn carriages.
Following a fierce debate that started over the poor condition of horses kept by their owners by animal rights activists, the municipality decided to implement a ban on horse-drawn carriages to stop the exploitation of horses.
On Jan. 16, 2020, the municipality bought nearly 1200 horses from their owners, out of which some 860 horses were rehomed across the country for free, while around 120 horses were sent to the service of the municipal police department. The rest of the horses are now in the municipality’s special barns, which officials call “loggias” or “gazebos,” where they are being fed well and looked after.
“They live in barns of 14 square meters. They now run freely,” said Mustafa Oktay Aksu, a veterinarian and also a member of the Istanbul City Council.
“People who were aware of the poor conditions these horses were in previously, pray for us on seeing how well kept these horses are now,” Aksu added.
These horses are being fed well and are receiving necessary care and attention, which they didn’t receive at the hands of their owners, said Ahmet Atalık, the head of the municipality’s Food Department.
“Most of the ex-owners could hardly recognize their horses. They could not make out which horse once belonged to them,” Atalık said.