Restoring the Abaco Spanish Colonial Horse
A 40 page highly detailed version of the following plan was submitted to the Bahamian Government on October 16, 2015. On May 9, 2017 the proposal was approved by Cabinet. We are free to move ahead to raise funds to implement the plan.
1. Rebirth of the herd using well established cloning and embryo transfer techniques. Cloning is the last resort as despite years of effort no breeding plan ever was permitted to be established and the last horse, Mare Nunki, died on July 23, 2015. The horses are extinct. This can be reversed. To date nearly 2 million dollars of pro bono services have been offered to bring this to fruition.
2. Formal allocation of the current designated 3800 acre conservation area for the horses to include extra pasture area of at least 200 acres as previously offered by the Department of Agriculture and promised in the past (per grant letter from the Office of the Prime Minister dated February 6, 2003). This has been accomplished.
2a. Planned improvements to the Preserve include new buildings, upgraded solar-powered electric fence system, and other infrastructure that will support the health and wellbeing of the horses while respecting as natural a state as possible for them. UNESCO Bahamas will support our efforts and provide assistance in order to have the Preserve designated as a World Heritage Site once it is upgraded and the first horses arrive.
2b. Equine assisted therapy. While awaiting the arrival of the cloned horses, 4–6 Iberian type geldings will be introduced to the Preserve as the core of an equine-assisted therapy program. Equine therapy programs are recognized successes and this will be the first such program in the Bahamas. The geldings will re establish an equine presence in the preserve, making it easier for the clones and their offspring to adapt.
Returning wildlife to ecologically important areas (The Preserve is located over the largest fresh water lens in Abaco) and reestablishing biodiversity are critical to the health of the planet. The goal of Arkwild is to restore Abaco’s wild horses and to serve as a premiere site for educating the world about the importance and feasibility of similar programs and showcasing the excellence of alternative energy sources. The Nature Conservancy has declared the Preserve area a the best example of its kind on Abaco, and the third best of all such areas in existence.
Ecotourism: The Preserve can become be a world-class center for showcasing the beneficial effects of good environmental stewardship. The importance of animal assisted therapy for humans has been established and many such programs exist in the United States and around the world. The Preserve will be the first such program in The Bahamas. Tourists will also have an opportunity to experience the Abaco pines ecosystem and observe the horses (and other wildlife) in a natural setting, and to participate in an equine-assisted therapy program.
Biological Tourism: Reintroducing an extinct sub species through cloning, the Preserve will appeal to students, biologists, ecologists, geneticists, and other scholars who wish to study our success.
Timelines: A minimum of one year will be required to upgrade the preserve, including replacement of solar powered electric fence system and two buildings. At least a year will be required to establish the equine-assisted therapy program, and 5–6 years will be required for importation of clones and foals.