Can Wild Horses Fight Global Warming?

According to Russian scientist Sergey Zimov, reintroducing wild horses to the icy Siberian landscape where they once roamed in droves, will begin to repair the ecological damage brought about by global warming.

A Forbes article (via Straight From The Horses Mouth) elaborates on Zimov’s theory to fill the vast barren lands of Siberia with grass-eating animals in the hope that it will eventually slow global warming. “Some people have a small garden. I have an ice age park,” says Zimov.

How can wild horses effect climate change?

By recreating an ecosystem that disappeared thousands of years ago, Zimov believes that herds of wild animals can turn these frigid areas into grassland. When the wild horses graze on wild grass, the grass stays healthy and their manure nourishes the ground cover. “In winter, the animals trample and flatten the snow that otherwise would insulate the ground from the cold air. That helps prevent the frozen ground, or permafrost, from thawing and releasing powerful greenhouse gases.”

Why wild horses?

The park originated with a herd of 40 Yakutian horses, a semi-wild breed. They are able to survive harsh Siberian winters with the help of their very warm, furry hide. With the reintroduction of the wild horses came the predators. “The challenge is to find the right balance between grazers and predators.”

What is rewilding?

According to The Rewilding Institute, “Rewilding is the scientific argument for restoring big wilderness based on the regulatory roles of large predators. The objective of rewilding Siberia with wild horses is, “To see whether a thriving population of grazing animals will regenerate grasslands that disappeared long ago, which would slow and even halt the accelerating pace of permafrost thaw.” According to the article, the results are encouraging.

Why introduce rewilding to the Arctic?

Climate change effects areas where temperatures are warming fast. “Most climate scientists say human activity, especially industrial pollution and the byproducts of everyday living like home heating and driving cars, is triggering an unnatural warming of the Earth.”

What are your thoughts about reintroducing wild horses into lands where they once roamed? What do you think about rewilding?

Read the full article to learn more about how this project works.

Photo Credit: S.A. Zimov for Science Magazine

85 comments

Lynn D.
Lynn D.3 years ago

Thanks, they've survived an awful lot so I don't see why they can't!

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thank you so much for this article

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Pat D.
Pat D.5 years ago

May be this will help the overpopulation of horses in Europe. That way the rich can spend even more money to eat them! It is interesting that they didn't reintroduce cattle to the lands the horses now roam????? It sounds like they have a better handle on things.

Harley S.
gini d.5 years ago

YES reintroducing any species to their habitat, the way it was before humans destroyed it will be beneficial ! Removing the causes of what took these wild horses out of their habitat is just as important to assure they can once again survive there! Yes, doing it for environment is good, and must also make sure it is good for the Horses! Keep them safe in the process.

Erin W.
Erin W.5 years ago

Rewilding appears to be a specific form of restoration. As long as the method is scientifically sound throughout, this sounds like a wonderful idea. It sounds very promising.

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Whoops,sorry for the "typo".....I meant "pretty harsh"........keyboard's sticking also! My BAD!

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Pewrry harsh & cynical, PastMember! I do "get your" point, but there are still some humans worth saving.

Ann L., the biggest problem the BLM Mustangs have is the BLM! If we could get rid of Salazar, and the anti-wolf bigots, the wild horses would stand much more of a chance. Without predicators SUCH as wolves & cougar, they horses over-breed, yes,and then with the domestic cattle grazing on their rangelands, they DO become affected with starvation. However, we can control their reproductive cycles SO DAMNED easy by catching, gelding & releasing the inferior stud colts & darting & rendering STERILE the worst of the mares, it's pathetic. There is no need to capture & kill and/or adopt out these horses at all.

Ann L.
Ann L.5 years ago

I want Zimov to come to the USA and wipe out the BLM. All their efforts ( and my tax dollar) are being used to wipe out the American mustang! Let's reintroduce a predator to keep BLM in " check"! Hooray for Zimov!

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago

I find this stupid idea! The global warming is sad for the animals which live in the Arctic, ormis it, I wish that everything collapses by provoking a big earthquake which will kill everybody, so animals will never suffer from the human bullshit. You believe that to put back(hand) horses in regions deprived of grass or grip(taking) under the ice(mirror,ice cream) will be good for these poor animals which will be cold, hunger and thirst and when they will be too large number the man will decide to exterminate them in a obnoxious way as he knows so well how to make him(it)! They will invent new slaughterhouses to market the horse meat and as these men's(people) races are illiterates and without feelings compassionnel they will murder them as they make him(it) in Mexico!!! I believe you every madmen and innocents(naive painters) and you annoy me excessively to put the animal everywhere where he does not have to be because of the man. I wish that there is not any more a single animal on earth(ground), so I can finally sleep a little because no animal will bear more the atrocious sufferings committed by the man!