Photo: Gary Dunnett

Photo: Gary Dunnett

Close your eyes. Imagine this…

It’s a moonlit night in our beautiful Kosciuszko National Park, a jewel of our natural heritage, its majestic snow gums and rugged mountains, alpine meadows, crystal streams, and precious, unique native creatures. In the cool dark, a herd of horses – pregnant mares, yearlings from last year’s foals, old horses, young horses, and the herd’s stallions with the bachelor herds nearby, are quietly grazing.

So many horses. Too many horses – why are they here in the Park? There used to be none. Each has four heavy hard hooves trampling, compacting, squashing the fragile subalpine soil and grasses.  Making trails, trenches, ribbons and scars through the treasured landscape – deeper every day.

Quietly grazing with huge equine teeth picking, cutting, gnawing, tearing the mountain grasses and sedges and mosses till the ground is bare and the soil erodes away. Steaming mounds of dung add insult to injury.

Going down to drink from what was once a crystal stream. Each hoof dislodges a new piece of soil which slides down the bank and adds to the brown swirling sediment in the damaged stream. The protective sedges, rushes and mosses are gone through grazing and trampling. The banks collapsed and washed away.

Suddenly a stallion comes in to steal a mate.  The herd panics and begins to run. Manes toss in fear; hooves and divots of soil flying high.  The stallions start to fight. It is scary.

Now open your eyes.

It’s very scary. Why is this happening to this wonderful national park? Home to beautiful and precious native plants and animals. Birthplace of the mighty Snowy and Murray Rivers. Provider of clean water. This is our heritage.