Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Stray horses and mules have been around in Phuentsholing town for many years. The number, however, has increased in recent times worrying the residents and thromde officials.

Phuentsholing thromde chased away 34 stray horses from the town towards Amochhu bridge after the recent lockdown. Of that, 30 returned the next day. Three horses were injured. One had a severe cut on the neck.

The Barnyard Bhutan Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (BBARS) in Paro took the two-year-old mare on September 10.

A thromde official, Jamtsho Drukpa said that they intended to reach the horses across the Amochhu bridge.

“On the way, just close to the bridge, we met three people, who warned us the animals will damage their crops,” he said. They left the horses there on the road.

“Most of the animals that returned were injured. Four didn’t return. I think people tried to kill the animals.”

Today, there are 29 stray horses in the town.

Jamtsho Drukpa said that the animals created problems with the traffic. During mating season, the animals go wild and it was risky for the residents.

“The horses also stay in pairs. When one goes missing, the other goes wild,” Jamtsho Drukpa said.

“There are chances of the horses getting bitten by rabid dogs. And there have been instances where these animals started chasing people. It is difficult to handle a rabid horse,” he said.

The executive director with the BBARS, Jamie Vaughan said that the injured mare was healing fast.

“We got to know about her from Phuentsholing Thromde. They have been looking after the horses during rabies outbreak and lockdowns,” she said. “We had provided funds for the feed but thromde did most of the work.” 

Jamie Vaughan said the Thromde, veterinary officials and taskforce had her treated before she was picked from Sorchen.

“Everybody helped make it happen. We got the movement permit and we could bring her the same day,” she said.

Meanwhile, BBARS is also planning to lift another three horses in about two weeks. One has injuries on a limb after she returned from Amochhu. 

“We have already found a new home for them here,” Jamie Vaughan said. 

BBARS is also planning to start a rehoming programme and hopes to take all 29 horses in the future. Barnyard has 60 horses today.

Phuentsholing Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said that handling stray horses was challenging.

“We don’t know the owners,” he said. “Where do we surrender the animals?”

The thromde’s pound can accommodate only about 10 horses. Thromde deploys workers to find fodder.

Uttar Kumar Rai said that whatever thromde office was doing at present were temporary solutions.

“All the cities may have such problems. We need to sort this out. It is a matter of sustainability too,” he said.

“When the owners don’t come, after six months or a year, what then? There must be some strategies.”

Meanwhile, sources said that most of the stray horses are from Lingden village in Phuentsholing gewog and some from Samtse.

Edited by Tshering Palden