The largest zoomorphic petroglyph in the Iberian Peninsula, that of Outeiro dos Lameiros (Baiona, Pontevedra), represents 78 supposed horses, almost all advancing in the same direction, towards a kind of enclosure. Three of the animals are mounted by humans, residents of 4,000 years ago. The resemblance of the rock scene with the party of the Rapa das Bestas it's amazing. Following the line of the mountain about four kilometers, at the other end of Baiona, the Alto da Groba (648 meters above the breakwater of the coastal road) hides among the thick fog one of the most important populations of wild horses that survive in Galicia . Are natural and historical heritage alive, animals with a genetic code that has its roots in the Pleistocene, ancestors of the current horse known as garranos (Equus ferus atlanticus), of which in the 70's there were around 20,000 in the community and now it is estimated that barely a fifth.
Last week, probably several experienced and knowledgeable people climbed the misty mountain, pushed nine garranos into a narrow deworming corridor for cows, closed the latches and started beating them with the animals. To sink the skull they used at least one iron bar that this Monday the Civil Guard collected in the place as evidence. Four mares died and another five innocent creatures were supposedly saved because some noise frightened the heartless authors of the massacre. The Seprona look for the criminals, but sources of the body recognize that it will be difficult to find them. Because if someone knows something, "they will fear finding trouble" with individuals capable of such and such absurd violence.
The brutal killing took place in Viladesuso (Oia), part of this Serra da Groba that dominates the territory inhabited today by some 750 garranos that were 2,000 at the end of the 20th century. The first two Sundays in June, farmers from five municipalities (Baiona, Oia, Gondomar, Tomiño and O Rosal) travel dozens of kilometers gathering the horses and concentrate on the curros, or large circular stone pens, of Torroña and Mougás (Oia). There the "beasts" are dewormed, shaved, marked and some sold, especially males and colts, for meat. The rest of the year they live in herds among the trees and feed on the cellulose of the toxos, the thorny bushes that cover the Galician mountain, in a free and quiet Equine anti-fire campaign.
The four battered mares might never have finished in a stew. The Grandma from the groves of A Groba had 24 springs and died last year after the last delivery. The females are kept alive to guarantee the hut and about 250 foals are born each year that barely compensates for the amount of garrams that succumb due to lack of food at the beginning of winter. "We do not remedy anything by raising them to eat," explains Modesto Dominguez, president of the Monte da Groba Horse Breeders' Association, "because 300 cows live in the area and eat everything. because they have horns. "
S. R. P.
In Viladesuso the Garran owners are not the owners of the land, but the Montes Community defends the wild horses because they know that they are their best allies against fires and save thousands of euros in clearing. Between the current horses and the Garran there are huge differences. Some adapted to the plain and eat grass. The others throw themselves into the forest and consume woody shrubs, tons of biomass. Wild horses are smaller, more hairy and have even developed a kind of whiskers that protect them from the skewers of the toxo that serves as sustenance.
Unlike most equidae in the world, the garranos are territorial until exhaustion. Although they are transported to another mountain for miles, if the land is not fenced in, those of A Groba end up returning "to the place where they were born", in search of their own herd. If the winter surprises them, according to the farmers they "look for shelter, they shrink" and wait, and in spring they take the road again. In Baiona and Oia their owners avoid that their small mares come to cross with a common horse. If this happens, the young come to the world too large and their mothers may die in childbirth.
Many owners of specimens of this subspecies identified by Felipe Bárcena as Equus ferus atlanticus They began to get rid of their garramas even when the law was being processed that forced them to identify them with a microchip. The new demands of the Xunta are "incompatible with the survival" of the mountain horse "except in a museum" and will necessarily lead to its "extinction", augured the Galician Society of Natural History. presided over by CSIC pedologist Serafín González describes the law as "one of the most serious environmental aggressions of recent years in Galicia".
In a desperate search for clues about the torturers of the Orana mountains, the Naturalist Association of Baixo Miño (Anabam), in collaboration with the Community of Montes de Viladesuso, has promised confidentiality and a reward of 500 euros to those who break the silence about the massacre. While the animalist associations reopen the debate about the conservation of this equine subspecies of the peninsular northwest, the acting Ombudsman, Francisco Fernández Marugán, has opened an investigation ex officio. Claims information about the death of the mares and requires the Xunta to clarify "the legal regime that protects the Garran, in danger of extinction."
According to the veterinarians who inspected the corpses found in the deworming hose, one of the mares died on the spot, two resisted a little longer and tried to fight. The fourth agonized without help, soaked by the rain, for about five days. It is believed that the attack occurred between Wednesday and Thursday, and on Sunday this filly was still breathing. But he no longer moved more than one ear.
"His eyes were dry, his brain had died with the blows," laments the president of the Gandeiros Association, which groups the 82 owners (several of them very old and without generational relief) of the 750 wild horses. This neighbor of Baiona is the partner that has more garranos in the region, 78, as many as the petroglyph animals. Modesto Domínguez goes through the mountain and among the impenetrable fog he recognizes each one of his mares. It has a name "for all": Mask, Baia, Ubre Pinta, Ubre Branca. When he sees them very thin, he goes down to his house for long periods and then releases them again.
The garrano, despite having an owner since time immemorial, is considered a wild animal that is part of the same natural balance as the wolf. All of them are marked by fire and progressively, as a result of a decree of the Xunta that put the ranchers on the warpath, now with a microchip. The law was approved in 2012 and since then there has been a dramatic decline in which it is still considered the largest population of wild horses on the planet, well ahead of takhi Mongolian or Przewalski's horse. When the decree came into force, the chip cost 40 euros and a garrano, a small animal whose commercial value only takes into account the kilos of meat that weighs (200 in adult specimens), is around 100 euros.
Today the device costs 16 euros, but there are regions of Galicia where farmers still resist and the regulations allow the municipalities to sacrifice any besta without microchip. The last judicial trick of a couple of associations is the appeal filed in September before the Court of Strasbourg. From the beginning of this struggle, environmental groups such as the Sociedade Galega de Historia Natural or zoologists such as Felipe Bárcena, the greatest expert in garramas, warned of the threat that loomed over the mountain horse: "The Xunta rejects the garrano, the most important natural value of Galicia ", wanting to put a chip on it is" like wanting to put it on the boar ".
In the Serra da Groba, farmers are opposed to the microchip but have complied with the norm and take advantage of each Rapa to implant it to the young. The four dead mares carried it, and when they discovered their corpses they passed the reader by the scruff of the neck. They were from Óscar, Vanesa, José and Miguel, four different owners, from different town halls, which rules out a personal revenge after the crime. With the skull burst, when the delinquents fled, the garrana that suffered several days without finishing to die kicked until breaking the metallic door that closed one of the ends of the sleeve of deworming.
Behind her, and among the other three corpses, they were imprisoned and in line, unable to escape from that lethal trap, the five survivors. The vermin immediately visited the desolate spot and started their banquet with the dead. The youngest mare was 14 months old. The oldest, 10 years. To one of them the predators tore off the udders while the live ones whinnied without anyone to help them. On Saturday, when they found them, the dying woman kept hitting El Hierro clasp mechanically with her legs.