Better news for brumbies in flooded Barmah Forest

By Sophie Baldwin

BARMAH Forest’s starving brumbies might be turning the corner although the volunteers feeding them think they will be needed for at least two more months.

The big issue they are now confronting is whether they have fought so hard to save the horses only to have Parks Victoria shoot them.

Barmah is known for two things – its National Park and its brumbies.

Ten weeks ago the majority of the brumbies in the Park were starving to death and if it wasn’t for the determination and dedication of the Barmah Brumby Preservation Group (BBPG), these wild animals, which have inhabited the park for close to two centuries, most certainly would have been wiped out after a slow and cruel death.

Since November the group and its band of volunteers have been feeding donated hay on private property adjacent to the park.

Supplemented by money that has been coming from around the world and into the group’s GoFundMe page – including $3000 from a man in Ireland and $1000 from a woman in Canada.

BBPG president Murray Willaton said direct support from the community and through their social media has been amazing – their Facebook group has now grown to more than 6000 members.

“People all over the country and around the world have shown their support and donated to our cause,” he said.

“As well as the money to help us purchase hay, the Thoroughbred and harness racing industries have also jumped on board and donated semi loads of hay which have provided so much help for us.

“Our little group has worked so hard to save these brumbies and it would be tragic and demoralising if Parks Victoria continued to shoot them after so much time, effort and money has gone into saving them over the past couple of months.”

Murray said the majority of brumbies were now looking OK despite Parks Victoria’s refusal to help the situation.

“There is still not an abundance of feed in the park. The Moira grasses are really struggling after being flooded at the wrong time of the year so we think we will continue to feed the brumbies for a couple of months yet,” Murray said.

Parks Victoria’s management of the situation has been widely criticised in Australia and around the world, after it chose to implement a plan of simply letting the brumbies starve and shooting them when their body condition score dropped below 1.5.

Murray said BBPG members have sighted more than 50 carcases and that figure is only inclusive of the areas members can get to.

“We can’t get into any flooded areas. We don’t know how many brumbies have been lost in total but we know most of the foals have perished.”