Massive horse deaths now a risk to humans


2629 starving horses 4 OK

Above: Image of denuded pastural land in the Central Land Council letter. Images below of dead and starving horses are from the same letter. 

2629 starving horses 3 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
There is still no comment from the Central Land Council (CLC) about horses, numbered at around 250 by a local resident, starving to death on Aboriginal land north-east of Alice Springs.
Serious health risks to people have now been identified and government personnel have urged the horses to be culled, according to a letter circulated by the CLC which is today holding a meeting at Yulara Pulka outstation near Uluru, including delegates from 75 remote communities.
The Department of Primary Industry and Resources has said “Aboriginal Land Rights Act land is managed by the landowners, in conjunction with the Central Land Council” and the department “is aware of this situation and is liaising with the CLC to manage the response”.
The Alice Springs News Online has obtained the letter to residents of  Mulga Bore and Angula, “distributed some time in March” according to the CLC, saying: “Whoever owns the horses is responsible to look after them. They are not doing this.
“There is no grass and only water from the bores. This is very serious. The horses are starving to death.
“They are wrecking the houses and bores.
“They are dying all over the place and poisoning the water and land.”
The writer of the letter says she had tried to hold a meeting “but no-one came. I tried very hard to find people at home and on the phone but could not find anyone.
2629 starving horses 5 OK“I left messages again today and no-one calls me back.”
The writer says what is happening violates animal welfare laws and “dead bodies poison the trough water and other pools of water so more horses die slowly from having no clean water.”
What’s more, people are at risk: “The dead bodies are close to the houses so it is very unhealthy for people.
“When the horses dig holes that fill up with water mozzies can live there and give people diseases.
“The NT Government Environmental Health Manager has been told. The manager said that the dead horses and all the area needs to be cleaned up and that the number of horses needs to come down so the problem doesn’t happen again.
“The NT Government Animal Welfare Inspector … said that the horses need to be put down.”
The writer continues:
“The horses are breaking the houses and water pipes.
2629 starving horses 2 OK“They are digging around the bores, troughs and houses looking for water and so the foundations are not safe.
“Because we weren’t able to have a meeting, someone else needs to make a decision now.
“There is only one option.
“There needs to be a cull to stop the animals suffering, stop them making the homes unhealthy and stop them wrecking the houses.”
The News has made several requests to the CLC for comment. This morning we emailed these questions: What is happening now? What is the CLC doing? Any comment on the situation. Please respond to the comment from the Department of Primary Industry and Resources.


  1. In a drought, especially if twinned with poor land management, stock will die. That’s one thing.
    Then there’s the dead carcasses to dispose of. That’s the next thing.
    Heap them up to burn or bury. That’s a no-brainer.
    The CLC is acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

  2. Hal: How would the Land Council stand legally if it were to destroy the property of a set of traditional owners without their permission? The CLC does not own the horses.
    They are either the property of individual traditional owners and traditional owner family groups, or of persons who have contracts with the TOs to allow their horses to be on the TOs’ land.
    Or else they are the responsibility of the particular Land Trust trustees on whose land they are located.
    Legally the CLC as a statutory body can only consult and advise the traditional owners, and act on their instructions. It cannot make decisions for them without their permission.

  3. All the Mulga Bore people are in town at the casino. How are they going to manage the livestock?

  4. I can assure you that the CLC have consulted widely and a meeting with TOs has been held on site to decide on what needs to be done across the wide range of related issues. That’s how CLC works in my experience.

  5. Are you saying, Eugene’s mate, that the dead animals should be left as a community health hazard while CLC asks for someone’s permission to heap them up for burning or for burial?
    Or perhaps that’s not CLC’s job or problem, but then it never is, is it?

  6. Hal, (Posted April 14, 2019 at 1:29 am): Don’t be so disingenuous. It is obvious from the article that CLC staff have been trying very hard to get permission to act.
    They have now made their frustrations known to the relevant authorities, who are able to step in.
    My point is that your criticism should have been aimed at those responsible (the traditional owners in question), not at the CLC as an organisation, as the staff are trying to do their job and get something done about the situation.
    I was at both Mulga Bore and Angula a little over a week ago, and found very few people at Mulga, and none at Angula.
    There were no dead horses that I saw, or smell of dead horses, around the houses then at either place, but there may have been some elsewhere. Of course the carcasses should be disposed of, wherever they are; that is what the writer and the CLC are trying to achieve.

  7. To Eugene’s Mate: If you were at Mulga Bore and Angula when you say you were and failed to see carcasses or detect the odour of rotting flesh near the houses and facilities I would suggest a medical check on your essential senses!
    Just travelling in from any direction you would have passed at least three carcasses on the roads, to say nothing of the watering points adjacent to the living areas where there were as many as six carcasses between them!
    I have the feeling we may have met somewhere along this “horse” journey in the recent past.
    In any case, it seems that some progress is being made since a meeting last Friday so that is a positive move.

  8. WHY do they keep animals they cannot properly look after in the first place?
    Do the same to the owners and see how fast they drop like flies.
    Stuff like this would never happen if everybody did the right thing.

  9. This is appalling. In a situation like this CLC has to take charge. This crap about getting traditional owners’ permission to cull starving horses etc is not on. Anywhere else on the planet authorities take charge where animals are neglected.
    Remember, some of these starving horses may be in foal. Its DISGUSTING to think this cruelty is allowed.


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