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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The famed wild horses of Namibia have been having problems recently. Predation by hyenas means the already declining herds don't have any members younger than seven. Namibian officials have enacted the culling of three female hyenas believed to be responsible for most foal deaths. Here's wjere the problem is: spotted hyenas are native species, while the horses are invasive.

https://africageographic.com/blog/namibia-culls-hyenas-to-save-its-wild-feral-horses/

Obviously, we all love horses. But, trying to put your biases aside, on which side do you lay?
(Keep in mind Namibian desert horses don't have nearly as long and rich a history as American mustang. They were only introduced in the early 1900s)
 

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I don't have a side. But if the horses (non-native) are a threat to the hyenas (native), I'd be against eliminating the hyenas in favor of the horses.

In other words, I wouldn't want management policies to favor the horses to the detriment of the hyena population.

If Zamibians value the feral horses and want them to thrive, it sounds like that is going to be very difficult.
 

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I agree with @boots . If the invasive horse population was threatening the area's environment and/or wildlife, then dealing with the horse population in some way would be wise. I always advocate for living solutions (where realistic and possible) over elimination solutions.

However, that's not the case here. The horses are being preyed on by hyenas. I think both species are quite good at reproducing. We know from mustang herds how horse herds can explode, and I've never heard of hyenas being in short supply. So it seems they typically have a good balance between invasive prey/native predator, and yet people want to preserve the horse populations. I don't immediately see a problem with that so long as it maintains a good balance of predator/prey. If the horses provide hyenas with a new food source, that's not a bad thing. But what will keep the hyena population from exploding until they've eaten away other prey species? How can that best be handled? I consider that question to be a part of land stewardship.

What I would ask is if it's worth it to allow the horse population to be kept small - are they destructive to the environment, like wild pigs are in other areas? Are they destroying food sources that are already in short supply for other native herbivores/foragers? I don't know the answer to that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hyenas are actually a threatened species in the area. The horses don't really directly harm any species, but they seem to be much more poorly adapted than natines (they always have ribs showing, and not in a toned muscley way).
 

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I think the horses should be domesticated and removed from that environment. It almost seems cruel to me that the people who brought the horses there abandoned them in one of the harshest environments on the planet. The fact they survived this long is a tribute to their adaptability. I believe the breed is worth preserving, as they are genetically distinct. But I'm not certain leaving them in that environment is sustainable, given the lack of forage and water sources. Sure, the park can relocate some predators elsewhere, but more will come in and you will be right back where you started.

The predators in this case have the advantage. The horses can't leave the area and the limited water sources mean that all the predators have to do is wait at the watering troughs to ambush the horses.

Perhaps relocating the horses to a better area of the park would be more sensible.

Spotted hyenas actually are doing well as a population. Brown and striped hyenas are not.

"As many as 47,000 spotted hyenas live in sub-Saharan Africa. They suffer similar forms of persecution as other hyenas but have fared better due to their ability to adapt to life in proximity to humans."
 
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