WATCH | How these horses will not be tamed

Horses have walked this earth for more than 50 million years. Once they roamed wild, inhabiting the world's harshest environments.

But their beauty and strength beguiled explorers who plunged them into a life of servitude.

Millennia later, a few still run untamed – yet their histories continue to mystify us.

In the Rooisand Nature Reserve, South Africa’s only herd of wild wetland horses graze.

Cantering among fynbos and fluttering sunbirds, they are easily mistaken for their domesticated counterparts.

Their rough exteriors are revealed on closer inspection. Well-adapted to the shallow waters, their large round hooves enable effortless movement through the muddy terrain, while thick winter coats ward off the cold.

Over time, divergent legends have obscured the herd's origins. Rumoured to be cavalry horses from the Anglo-Boer War, or survivors of the Birkenhead shipwreck, their ancestors looked death in the face and prevailed.

Now, these descendants enjoy a more subdued life among the tall reeds, concealing the secrets of their past.

Regardless of their background, the horses are rooted in the reserve. They are as much a part of the ecosystem as the streams that sustain the wildlife here.


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As they wade through the marshlands they create clearings that would otherwise be overgrown with vegetation.

This herd has remained intact for more than a century, but the future of these mysterious creatures is contingent on our actions.

Approximately 20 horses make up the group. The loss or degradation of their habitat will almost certainly deplete their population entirely.

The Rooisand horses are a testament to nature's resilience and ability to withstand the toils of time. It’s up to us to keep their histories teeming with wonder.