What we stand for
ABA is dedicated to the promotion, protection and humane management of Australian Wild Brumby horses and advocates for common causes of member groups to National, State and Local Governments and to the public. (ABA Constitution Feb 2009).
Living Wild in Sustainable Numbers under Humane Management
A core goal of ABA is to ensure that Brumby numbers are retained living wild in their historic habitats, in a sustainable and humane manner.
This goal is a challenge since it conflicts with current political and environmental views that, despite Brumbies evolving for 200 years in areas that later became parkland, they no longer belong because wild horses, being an introduced species, will only cause damage to their environment.
The goal of Brumbies living wild in sustainable numbers requires projecting information that is capable of shifting the current negative wild horse paradigm into a positive one that shows the benefits gained from moderate Brumby levels.
To achieve the goal of sustainable wild horse populations, this website sets out to present the evidence of “why” and methodology of “how” to retain managed, viable Brumby levels, and highlights the positive impacts for native species, aesthetic values and ensures our living social heritage will survive for future generations to experience and learn from.
Healthy Brumbies in healthy environments assists species, such as birds, butterflies and insects by sustaining a patchwork of short, green grass that in turn enables biodiversity. We also recognise that removing too many Brumbies can disadvantage species that have benefited from their presence.
In working towards the goal of sustainable numbers we:
- Support objective, robust wild horse environmental studies, by working with the University of Queensland (USQ) to identify sustainable numbers,
- Call on park managers and scientists to join in the USQ Wild Horse research project to bring current polarised views into collaborative working relationships,
- Promote humane wild horse control options of fertility control and passive trapping,
- Oppose aerial or ground shooting and Brumby Running, and
- Support trials using SLOW ground musters where wild horses are moved at the pace of the slowest horse in the group. and
- Encourage passively trapped Brumbies removed under park management plans to be offered to suitably skilled rehoming groups or individuals who can ensure their transition from wild to domestic life, for they have an amazing range of skills to offer.
There are three key methods or strategies that are important to achieve this goal: Passive Trapping, Fertility Control and Re-homing. ABA advocates and promotes these strategies as ways to control a population, as opposed to the use of lethal culling to decimate a wild horse population.
Following the backlash reaction to the Brumby massacre in the Guy Fawkes River National Park in 2000, the NSW Government was compelled to manage wild horses on Park in a new and more humane way. In collaboration with the RSPCA and local horse men and women, a Trial Horse Capture and Removal Program was conducted in 2004, using a variety of trapping techniques. The trial led to a passive trapping program, initially contracted to local horsemen, that continues to the current day by Park staff.
During this period the Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association, and subsequently the Oxley Heritage Horse Association and Save the Brumbies (ABA Founding Members), were formed to take horses passively trapped in the National Parks and re-home them. All re-homing groups were key stakeholders on the Guy Fawkes River Horse Reference Group and advocated for the humane management of horses in the Parks (GFRNP and Oxley Wild Rivers NP).
For further information on the 2000 GFRNP aerial shooting massacre, please read the ABA Guy Fawkes 2000 review 20_Oct_2014.
The Guy Fawkes Management plan paved the way for wild horse management in Kosciuszko National Park when ABA founding member, the Victorian Brumby Association, initiated regular meetings with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at their Tumut office (NSW) to promote the use of passive trapping as a population control for KNP.
The ABA and Snowy Mountain Bush Users Group (SMBUG), another ABA founding group joined with the Tumut NPWS meetings, and then the RSPCA-NSW also joined us. Together we progressed passive trapping techniques, adaptions to the domestic horse transport code of practice and after some time safe transfer yards were erected at the Blowering NPWS.
The ABA hosted a one-day seminar in Brisbane in 2009 to bring together a range of speakers to explain how fertility control was being used on wild horse populations overseas, what research was being done on fertility control for horses and other species, including marsupials in Australia, and the issues of introducing fertility control in Australian horse populations.
The ABA seminar provided new professional and community contacts, that from the start, have been able to guide and support the ABA’s goal of sustainable numbers living wild.
Government is resistant to introducing fertility control programs, citing cost and poor efficacy, particularly in large remote areas. Research and development continue to improve fertility control methods with multi-year vaccines now a reality (see PZP-22 Fact Sheet). Nevertheless, authorities remain unconvinced.
Members of the Victorian Brumby Association undertook training in the administration of PZP vaccine via remote darting and volunteered their time to conduct a trial with Parks Victoria but the proposal was declined. We continue to keep abreast of new developments and push for a trial to be conducted in Australia.
Re-homing has been undertaken by individuals and groups all over Australia for many years, virtually without financial assistance from governments. While ABA, itself, does not re-home horses, many of its member groups have re-homing programs and some manage Brumby sanctuaries. ABA supports re-homing as a key component of humane management of sustainable horse numbers and advocates this approach for horse management plans.