Nunki, the last wild horse on Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island, dies

Source: wild horses of Abaco facebook

From Milanne Rehor:

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we have to tell you, our faithful fans and followers, of Nunki’s passing on July 23rd.  Nunki was over 20 years old, which is quite remarkable.  She passed peacefully and painlessly in the loving arms of her caretaker and friend of over 20 years Milanne Rehor (Mimi) and with friends Avener and Dr Bailey at her side.  Her overstressed liver finally gave up.  On this saddest of days as we all try to wrap our heads and our hearts around what has happened, I wanted to reflect on a few things and share them with all of you.

Let us remember that our goal and mission was for this breed and for Nunki…and that goal still remains the same…trying to preserve this breed for future generations and to make what has gone wrong right again. And even though Nunki is now gone that mission does NOT change.  We will continue to work towards the return of the herd, and with Nunkis DNA that is still possible.  So let us not forget why we ALL joined together, why we were friends to Mimi, the Team and most of all Nunki and her kind, because we all cared enough to want to make a difference, and our work is NOT done.

Let us all keep Mimi, Avener and Jean in our thoughts and prayers, because no one knew or loved Nunki more than they did.  May Nunki rest in peace, I know she is kicking up her heels, whinnying to all those that have gone before her, with the wind whipping thru her mane.  We look forward to continuing to work with all of you on her re-birth.

May God Bless Us All, and help us be successful on this incredible mission that we have ALL come together to accomplish.

Rest in Peace Sweet Nunki



SOURCE:  abcnews.go.com

Last Wild Horse dies on Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island

By DAVID McFADDEN Associated Press

The last of the wild horses on Great Abaco island in the Bahamas has died, prompting caretakers to collect tissue for possible cloning and hopefully bring back a viable population.

Milanne Rehor, project director for the Wild Horses of Abaco Preservation Society, said Tuesday that a U.S. veterinarian removed tissue from the dead mare and the material has just been shipped to an animal cloning technology company in Austin, Texas.

“We are sad at the loss. But we are also optimistic because we do have a crack at bringing the herd back,” said Rehor, a 71-year-old New York native who has spent over two decades trying to preserve the wild horses in the northern Bahamas.

Some 60 years ago, as many as 200 wild horses grazed and trotted freely through the scrubland and forests of Great Abaco, which was once logged for its pine trees.

The horses were imported from Cuba in the late 1800s by a logging company. When the company switched to tractors for pulling logs in the 1940s, the animals were set free and went feral.

The wild horses flourished for a time, then a young child died while trying to ride one of the horses after it had been tamed and townspeople killed all but three of the herd in the early 1960s, according to Rehor’s organization.

The herd rebounded to about 35 animals by the mid-1990s with the help of Rehor and other enthusiasts who secured a preserve for the horses in Abaco’s Treasure Cay. But the remaining horses were sickened by poisonous plants, pesticides and herbicides and were unable to reproduce. The last one, a roughly 20-year-old mare called Nunki, died in recent days.

Rehor, who lives on a boat moored in Abaco, said she lost a “wonderful companion.” She hopes Nunki’s cells can be reproduced and one day a foal can be bred with DNA from a living stallion.

Ernest Cothran, a clinical professor at Texas A&M University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who has studied Abaco’s wild horses, said he would be surprised if the cloning plan succeeds. “I would not say it is impossible, however,” he said.

APRIL 2015


I haven’t posted about the Abaco Barbs for ages for two reasons (1) the story is already receiving plenty of other attention and (2) because the news became progressively more depressing. In a nutshell, there is only one surviving mare that is a true Abaco Barb – Nunki. She has been in very poor health, but intervention have improved the situation. It its planned that she will be inseminated by a stallion with a similar (though not Abaconian) bloodline, and that the species can be continued in that way. There are plenty of potential pitfalls in the plan, and there is a perennial shortage of funds. I’ll add to this update, including some recent images. Meanwhile, the header image is the latest ‘official’ announcement.

Nunki in 2015, with health improved and plans for the future…Nunki 1

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦


Normal(-ish) service is resumed after a break… Before I went away I posted about the Abaco Barbs and the precariousness of their continued existence as a species. I have just heard from Milanne Rehor of ARKWILD with a completely up-to-date report on the current situation. From her account it is clear that these rare wild horses really are on the brink of extinction

“Currently, we have the three mares in a reduced area of the Preserve. We have had limited sightings of one stallion outside the Preserve.  The second outside stallion hasn’t been seen in over a year so we don’t know if he still is alive. 

The mares’ physical condition is “OK” but because of the smaller size of the Preserve  (due to financial cut backs) they are in need of a blacksmith’s attention, veterinary attention to their dental condition and veterinary investigation of their reproductive capabilities.

We are in immediate need of funding to provide grain for the horses, (to supplement the smaller forage area), wages for our men (currently reduced to part time) in their work of feeding the horses, providing security for them and maintaining the electric fence and other chores.

The Bahamian Government has been helpful to a point with an expressed interest and indirect support of the horses , for example the President of our Board of Directors is also the Chief Warden for the Northern Bahamas for the Bahamas National Trust. A number of other board members are equally well placed,  but the government has not yet directly contributed financially. 

I hope this information helps, I’ll be happy to answer any other questions you may have.  Your patience is deeply appreciated and thank you for following our story on your site. Best regards, Mim”



I have been in touch with Mim at ARKWILD to find out the latest news on the Abaco Barbs, and in particular how things are after Hurricane Irene. She has kindly sent a brief update which speaks for itself – not very optimistic-sounding, I’m afraid: 

“Horses did fine, but we are down to the three mares inside, and one, possibly still two, stallions outside, we’re still fighting but it’s hard to paint this picture in pretty colors right now  . . .”

Mim has also sent the link to a dramatic 4 minute video which includes vivid footage of Hurricane Irene’s power as it passes over on August 25; and the aftermath on August 26 with graphic footage of damage, debris and flooding. Luckily the mares in the compound and her dogs were ok. Her boat home, well secured before Irene struck, still had various parts including its solar panels blown off, which she was fortunately able to recover by diving for them! 


RICKY JOHNSON leads wonderful birding and natural history outings, taking small parties to the prime hotspots for Abaco Parrots and much else besides – see RICKY JOHNSON’S ECO-TOUR for a detailed account. He also takes small groups to see the Abaco Barbs in their protected forest surroundings near Treasure Cay. These photos were taken there in March 2011. The horses are free to roam in the pine forest, but the compound is their HQ, where they can be sure of a feed. There are 4 mares and 1 stallion remaining: even with the best efforts of those concerned, the preservation of this unique breed seems sadly doomed.

ARKWILD is the website to go to for information. There’s a link to the website in the Sidebar Blogroll and also a Twitter link in the Sidebar. Here is the direct link to the latest summary (dated July 2010, but in sequence it should be 2011, I think) and donation page – it is also the portal to the rest of the site with information, photographs and videos

CLICK LOGO ===>>> 

 (Photo credits – all photos – Mrs RH)

In the rollingharbour tradition of encouraging easy access to online material, here is a selection of 8 videos about Abaco Barbs, the near-extinct wild horses of Abaco. In due course I’ll add some links to the most informative websites and also some photos. The first 3 videos derive from the origins and subsequent conservation work by the charity Arkwild. There’s a link to the Arkwild site in the sidebar Blogroll. The struggle to try to preserve the breed is extremely well documented on the internet, and needs no repetition from me. It’s worth saying, however, that the situation is now worse than ever: in March 2011, there were only 5 horses left, of which only one is a stallion…

The remaining videos are mostly collections of stills, some accompanied by music that you may want to turn down. Or off, in one case. There’s a degree of repetition, but I have left them there in case there is an image that strikes you as special or a nugget of information that is of interest…




Horses in the Pines, the story of the Abaco Barbs. Only 8 left on the planet, their story is both tragic and beautiful. by photogchic1 | 3 years ago |


This compelling video is an introduction to the story of the Wild Horses Of Abaco. Only a few are left now, we’re fighting hard to save them from … by arkwild | 2 years ago |


Because the forest is in a dry cycle, new grasses are not growing fast enough we decided to supplement each mare with a measure of mixed grain and … by arkwild | 1 year ago




The Abaco Barb is one of the purest breeds left in the world. They live on an island in the Bahamas where they ship wrecked around the same time … by TheFluffyFan53 | 2 years ago |


Once, they were a mighty herd, perhaps 200 strong: pinto, bay and roan horses rippling through thousands of acres of pine forest. They were as … by SabinoPaintMare369 | 2 years ago |


The abaco barb is so pretty! why would u want them 2 die out? Help them out and try 2 keep them on this planet! subscribe 2 me if you care … by EnglishCowgirl121 | 2 years ago |


This is a short clip of the beloved Abaco Barb Horse, I know that my name says puppylove, but i am making horse, videos. For more info go to this … by puppylove825 | 2 weeks ago |


Information about the world’s rarest and most endangered horse breed by Horsieperson | 2 weeks ago


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