Mass death on Souli mountains

Melting snow in the rugged mountains of northwestern Greece has revealed the corpses of scores of wild horses believed to have starved to death earlier this year after getting trapped in snowdrifts during the unusually harsh winter, local villagers said. Farmers and hunters living in the mountainous Souli region in Epirus told Kathimerini that at least 100 dead horses have been found in the area, expressing fears that entire herds of the wild beasts may have perished in the whole Pindus range. Farmer Dimitris Bolosis, from the village of Kouklii, said he had personally found at least 15 corpses, while Vassilis Dimitriou, a hunter from the village of Avlotopos, has counted some 43 dead horses in three separate groups. In most cases, the horses were found in groups of five to 10. Local residents and wildlife experts believe the beasts, which live in small herds that survive by grazing the mountain vegetation, became trapped by heavy snow which in many parts had reached a depth of 2 meters, and succumbed to starvation or hypothermia. Locals said that in many cases the horses had tried to survive by eating tree bark, but that was not enough to keep them alive. «I have lived in this area for over 50 years, and this is the first time I have seen horses dying of the cold in such large numbers,» farmer Telemachos Balas said. The head of the Ioannina forestry department, which is responsible for the Souli area, said he was unaware of the mass deaths. Dimitris Vergos added that he would look into the reports. According to Thessaloniki University experts, some 11,840 horses live in a wild or semi-wild state all over Greece. The total Pindus population is estimated at some 3,000 beasts.

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