safari experts, since 1991
Book a call with a safari expertBook a call
Subscribe to our newsletter and/or app
Wild horses in Namibia
Wild horse numbers plummeted recently from 286 to only 77 remaining animals © Telane Greyling

Editorial note: The use of the term ‘wild’ horses below is in keeping with popular references, although in fact, these horses are feral, and not indigenous to the area.

Sourced from third-party site: Oxpeckers, written by Linda Baker

Namibian environment officials last week shot and killed three spotted hyenas blamed for the near extinction of its famed wild horses.

A long-running battle between the desert-dwelling wild horses and hyenas, which share a single water point in the arid southern Namib-Naukfluft National Park, reached a crisis point as horse numbers plummeted recently from 286 to only 77 remaining animals.

“We are now in the final hour of the wild horses’ existence on the planet,” the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation warned in early February. It called on the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), custodian of both the hyenas and the horses, to take immediate action to save the horses from extinction.

Camera trap showing a hyena and horse at water trough
Camera trap: No one has observed hyenas killing a horse because attacks take place at night © WHF/BHP

An international social media frenzy joined the call, with articles, petitions and debates about the plight of the horses. Minister of Environment Pohamba Shifeta is due to join representatives of the foundation and the Namibian Environment & Wildlife Society (NEWS) at a public debate titled “Are horses more important than hyenas in our national parks?”, scheduled to take place in Windhoek on Thursday, February 28.

The only remaining foal in the park was attacked and wounded by hyenas last week, with gruesome images of its injuries circulating on social media. Two attempts to catch and translocate the hyenas proved futile, prompting the MET to shoot three hyenas, including a large female thought to be the main cause of foal mortalities.

Wild horse with injured foal in Namibia
Apart from this recently injured foal, no other foals have survived over the past five years and the youngest animal in the herd is now seven years old © Christine Swiegers

Interference condemned

MET spokesperson Romeo Muyunda told Oxpeckers that three more hyenas would be captured and translocated elsewhere in the park, at a good distance away from the horses. Trap cameras showed up to 11 hyenas at diversionary feeding sites in 2017.

While horse lovers across the globe cheered, environmentalists condemned interference, stating that “MET appears to be contradicting its own tourism and wildlife policies by advocating the removal of the hyenas from the national park”.

“Spotted hyenas are classified as vulnerable and are therefore a conservation priority in Namibia,” NEWS said in a statement.

“To have a natural species killed in favour of a feral species in a national park is a very, very sad day for carnivore conservation,” commented a carnivore researcher who asked not to be named.

NEWS said killing or translocating the spotted hyenas would only temporarily reduce predation of the feral horses, until new hyenas fill the gap left by the removed animals. The exact number of horses killed by hyenas is also debatable, as drought and disease also account for mortalities, the organisation said…

To read more about the controversial hyena cull, continue to the article on Oxpecker’s website here

To comment on this story: Login (or sign up) to our app here - it's a troll-free safe place 🙂.


  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Browse our ready-made packages or answer a few questions to start planning your dream safari.
  • Subscribe to our FREE newsletter / download our FREE app to enjoy the following benefits.
  • Plan your safaris in remote parks protected by African Parks via our sister company - safari camps for responsible travellers

Subscribe to our newsletter and/or app
[wpforms id="152903"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full" id="wpforms-152903"><form id="wpforms-form-152903" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="152903" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/stories/namibia-culls-hyenas-to-save-its-wild-feral-horses/" data-token="1bcd4e69864d9910c0e9820c457d23ca"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div id="wpforms-152903-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-152903-field_1">Email Address <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-152903-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" placeholder="Email " required></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="152903"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="223"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="111881"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-152903" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Subscribe" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Subscribe</button><img src="" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt="Loading"></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->