Mass shootings of wild horses (brumbies, as they are called in Australia) from the air! Men in helicopters gunning down entire herds of fleeing horses. The din of rotors. Shots ringing out. Animals panicking. Many collapsing, struck by bullets. Death does not always come immediately.
This barbaric practice was not only tolerated by the Australian government in the 1980s but organised by it. The excuse? Horses weren’t indigenous.
The driving force behind these massacres was the cattle industry, which had zeroed in on the horses’ grazing lands – never mind that cattle and sheep in Australia are about as indigenous as the horses.
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In 1987 and 1988, Fondation Franz Weber (FFW) brought the brumby bloodbath to public attention in Europe. The international outcry put an end to the culls.
Following the crisis, the FFW purchased Bonrook Station, a vast former cattle ranch in the Northern Territory, Australia. And so, the Franz Weber Territory was born: a protected natural paradise spanning 500 square kilometres of tropical bushland. This Foundation property is to date the only sanctuary for Australia’s wild horses. It also serves as a sanctuary for countless other rare indigenous species.
We know from our own experience that horses in Australia pose no threat to local flora or fauna. Conserving and maintaining this wonderful example of animal protection, a place absolutely unique in Australia, is one of FFW’s most fascinating tasks.