“We are very pleased that the herd has settled down after this difficult time,” says Leanne Dryburgh of Rooisand Horse Watch, referring to the three accidents that resulted in the death of four feral horses from the Fisherhaven herd earlier this year.
Three of the horses were stallions and, according to Leanne, conflict between the youngsters and older stallions in the herd had played a big role in the accidents that occurred between March and July. “There are no more challenging males left. The dynamics of the herd have calmed down and the whole situation is much more predictable now,” she says.
The first incident occurred on the evening of 29 March, when a VW bus travelling on the Middlevlei Road collided with a pregnant mare and two foals near the Meerensee turn-off, leaving the mare dead and one of the foals injured. The mare was known to locals as Star.
It was speculated at the time that speeding and a lack of adequate street lighting had contributed to this tragic accident. In the second incident less than a week later, a stallion known as Streetfighter was killed when it galloped across Farm Road and collided with a car on the evening of 4 April.
“It all started with Star’s death in the first accident,” explains Leanne. “Sadly, this had a traumatic impact on the dynamics of the Fisherhaven herd. Not only was her foal grieving and searching for its mother, but Star was the favoured mare of the stallion known as William. He, too, was frantic when she died and subsequently tried to take the mare of the other group’s dominant stallion, Streetfighter, which led to skirmishes.
“Streetfighter and his mare, Midnight, had been together for more than 10 years and had had several foals together. When she was ‘stolen’ by William, Streetfighter was pushed out and aimlessly wandered around on his own.” On the evening that Streetfighter was killed, members of the Fisherhaven Neighbourhood Watch reported that they’d been called out to investigate reports of gunshots and cars racing across a field shortly before the accident. It is possible that this could have ‘spooked’ the horse.
Three months later, on the night of 3 July, William and a young stallion known as Diamond collided with a car travelling from Kleinmond to Hermanus on the R43, close to the Fisherhaven turn-off. In all three accidents, the vehicles were irreparably damaged by the impact but the drivers fortunately were not seriously injured.
Leanne explains the third accident as another consequence of the upheaval that Star’s death caused among the herd. With Streetfighter out of the way, so to speak, William also turned on two of Midnight and Streetfighter’s offspring, the young stallion known as Diamond and the yearling, Slate.
“The two brothers stuck together and were joined by Luna, an old stallion from the Rooisand herd which had come across to Fisherhaven,” says Leanne. “Together they formed their own micro-herd on the periphery and tried to keep out of William’s way by spending more time towards the Afdaksrivier area. William was chasing Diamond on the night they were both killed in the third accident.”
With the three warring stallions, Streetfighter, William and Diamond now all dead, Leanne says the herd dynamics are more balanced. “Luna has a very sweet nature and he has also had a calming influence on the herd,” she says. “After William and Diamond were killed, we were frantic to find Slate, but fortunately he was unharmed and Luna has now taken him under his wing. The herd is now back together and harmony has been restored.”
Leanne stresses that the Rooisand Horse Watch members have named the horses for reference purposes only and not because they have any claim to the horses. “These are feral horses and should be treated as such. People should refrain from feeding or touching them.”
Leanne adds that they are extremely grateful for the support and cooperation that Rooisand Horse Watch has received from the Fisherhaven community, as well as from CapeNature, the Overstrand Municipality’s Environmental Department, Law Enforcement and the Traffic Department. “There is ongoing work to be done, but we are beginning to see results in the form of additional speedbumps and signs. The section of fence that was damaged in the wildfires has also been mended,” she says.
“The Fisherhaven community is committed to these horses – they are loved, protected and continuously monitored by a network of volunteer horse watchers and patrollers. They are healthy, they have enough to eat and drink, and have fully adapted to the Fisherhaven environment.”
Rooisand Horse Watch raises funds for veterinary bills and other expenditure by means of a raffle every second month. The next lucky draw will be done on 1 November. There are three great prizes to be won. Tickets can be bought at only R20 each by contacting 066 000 2650 or email@example.com.
Members of the public should take note that Rooisand Horse Watch is the only official body that has the authority to do fundraising. It recently came to light that a private organisation calling themselves the ‘Horse Lovers’ Group’ have attempted to collect money from residents in a retirement village in Hermanus, allegedly to raise funds for a cattle grid. If you come across this scam or have any information or queries, please call the Rooisand Horse Watch on the contact number or email above.
For anyone who would like to make a donation, the banking details are: Rooisand Horse Watch, FNB Hermanus, Acc no. 62806484242. Reference: your phone number