Many types of wildlife are finding their way back to southern Spain's 1,235 acre Campanarios de Azaba Reserve. Because man had moved into this area and taken up natural wildlife habitats, large numbers of herbivores had disappeared from the area. With the decline in farming in the area, it is now leaving the deserted countryside open to vultures, wolves and other animals as well as the rare Spanish Retuerta horses.
After 2000 years, this horse had been reintroduced to the reserve and seems to be adapting well to their new home. There was recently an assessment done that showed 47 of the Retuerta roaming their new environment. With the support of Rewilding Europe, the release was made possible by the Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre, a government organization. Rewilding Europe is a group that helps in re-establishing wildlife across Europe.
Jose Negro, who is the director of the Danana Biological Station, is glad the first stages are going so well. He plans to establish two different populations of this ancient breed. Their goal is to have two different bands of the Retuerta at two different locations.
The two bands are complimentary to one another in that this helps to ensure a more effective rate of re-establishment for this rare breed. In strengthening the population, it guarantees the survival of the breed. Both herds will be treated as strictly wild and will live in natural social groups in this Dehesa savannah woodland area.
Known as Iberian horses due the peninsula they are native to, only about 18 breeds are now recognized. In 2012, the number of Retuertas with ancestral genes was 150 having been recognized as nearing extinction in 2003. The breed had thrived in the wild and this had helped to strengthen the breed. There was only about half a dozen of these left in 1980 due to other breeds being used for the agricultural work they had been doing.