Abaco Barbary Horses Win Preserve

Large Conservation Area Set Aside Too

Mr. Gary Sawyer (L) and Mr. Ronald Thompson, Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister
of the Bahamas, greet Bellatrix II during a visit to Bahama Star Farm.

The Abaco Wild Horses now have a strong chance to escape extinction a second time. This chance has been made possible by the determined efforts of a growing number of deeply concerned supporters. Abaco’s Wild Horses recently achieved international rare breed status thanks to these efforts. Prime Minister Perry Christie, in an address to Parliament, stated his full support for the preservation of the horses and the creation of a special preserve for them. The local group, Friends of the Abaco Barbary Horse, headed by President Anthony Bostwick, Jr., is using its expertise to help with everything from informing government officials about the horses to hands on work with the horses to planning major fund raising events.

On November 6, Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr. Ronald W. Thompson, accompanied by Mr. Audley Greaves, Undersecretary to the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Keod Smith, Ambassador to the Environment from the B.E.S.T. Commission, Mr. Stephan Moss of the B.E. S. T. Commission, , Mr. Chris Russell, Forestry Officer under the Department of Lands and Surveys, Mr. David Knowles of the Abaco Office of the Department of Agriculture, Ms Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Arkwild, Inc., Mr. Anthony Bostwick, President of the Friends of the Abaco Barbary Horse, Michael Albury, President of the Abaco Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Gary Sawyer of Abaco Petroleum and Milanne (Mimi) Rehor Project Director, toured Bahama Star Farm and visited the horses. Then a tour was made of the proposed site area.

At a meeting held after the group met with stellar equine performer Bellatrix II, one of the young fillies of the herd, Permanent Secretary Smith stated that the preserve was a reality and that a letter from the government would be forthcoming soon to make the designation of the land official. An additional 3,200 acres were promised as a conservtion area adjoining the preserve. The site will then be surveyed and work can begin. This meeting was the culmination of a series of exciting events which finally launched the wild horses on the road to recovery.

On October 18, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe met with Rehor at “ a Buck a Book,” the
Marsh Harbour used bookshop that raises donations for the Abaco Barbs. Mr. Wilchcombe invited Rehor to attend a meeting of Parliament at the House of Assembly the following week. Rehor presented Minister Wilchcombe with a framed portrait of an Abaco Barbary Horse at the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce the night of October 18.

On October 23 Prime Minister Christie met privately with Rehor and Ms. Nadine Smith at the House of Assembly in Nassau. After the meeting Mr. Christie addressed the assembled Members of Parliament and pledged his full and personal support for the project to save the horses, including designation of appropriate land adjacent to the Bahama Star Farm as a preserve for the horses. After the announcement Rehor and Smith met many other Ministers and Members of Parliament who also pledged their support for the horses and the preserve, both of which hold great promise for Eco tourism.

It will probably be a few months before the horses are returned to their old home. Rehor said “We can't yet predict when the site will be opened for tours and visits. Until that time, small groups of two or three people may be taken out to the farm, but appointments have to be made and cleared with farm management. We understand that everyone wants to see the horses and we deeply appreciate your patience as we try to restore them to good health, the ability to breed again and have visitors on a regular basis”

In the meantime, you can help in many ways. Fund raising is in process at local, national and international levels so that the preserve can be prepared and the horses moved as soon as possible. Funds are also being raised to design and build a visitor welcome and orientation center and a museum. There will also be a clinic, fire watch towers and a need for fire fighting equipment. Volunteers are needed at Buck a Book to help keep the shop open and to spruce up the container. Volunteers will be needed to help move the horses and to help prepare the site. .

”We look forward to the day when everyone will be able to see the horses roaming free in the forest where they survived for 500 years” said Rehor. For information about how you can help, or join the Friends of the Abaco Barbary Horses, call 242-367-4805 in Abaco, or visit a Buck a Book in the Abaco Shopping Plaza. It’s in a container in the back, just find Kentucky Fried Chicken and keep going to the end.

Rehor and the Friends of the Abaco Barbary Horse thank everyone who has given the Abaco Barbs this wonderful second chance. There have been so many who supported the horses for all these years, none of this could have happened without you.


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