Milanne Rehor, 73, has devoted her life’s work toward the return the recently extinct Abaco Island Horse to the island, they once inhabited. As Program Director of Arkwild, Inc., Milanne, Mim, has dedicated the last 26 years to saving the breed. When the last surviving mare, Nunki, died 3 years ago, Mim was by her side.
Nunki’s DNA is currently stored at a cloning facility waiting for the day when the Wild Horses of Abaco Island’s 3800 acre conservation area is ready for their return. Supported by the Bahamian government the Preserve, will one day be the home for the new generation of Wild Abaco Island horses.
In May 2017, the Bahamian government approved a 40-page restoration plan that includes designation of the Preserve as a conservation area, establishment of an equine-assisted therapy program, promotion of the Preserve for ecotourism and as an area for re-introduction of the cloned Abaco Island Horse breed. The plan has been adopted, location of the Preserve has been sanctioned, and the focus now is raising funds to finance improvements and building infrastructure.
Since WARHorses’ last post update, a new board of directors is being formed and fundraising efforts have reached a crescendo. There is a seemingly insurmountable amount of work to be done but slowly, progress is being made. Mim makes certain of that.
WH: What is the current state of the Preserve?
MR: The vegetation is lush from good spring rain but the buildings (shipping containers) continue to deteriorate from rust. Roofs I tarred and papered years ago are leaking, insulation I put up years ago is being blown off. It is very sad looking. The dogs are fine though their pens are overgrown. They are happy to be safe and well fed, sometimes we sing together just before I leave from a visit. Kali and KatLean, the Preserve’s two cats, thrive and not long ago presented me with three big rats. Frogs and bees also thrive which is very good.
What item is most needed?
Funding. We need to hire several fulltime workmen and get our old tractor “Messy” running again. Our priority is to re-fence one area that will provide habitat for four therapy horses. With manpower and the proper equipment this can be completed within a few months.
Are you concerned about the seasonal problems of fire and hurricanes?
Fires can happen any time there is drought and people decide to clear fields. With a functioning tractor, a new big pump and some basic equipment we can successfully control fire. As things are now we cannot do anything except maintain, by machete, a clear area round the base and containers. For hurricanes the containers have been cabled down to strong deep buried anchors. We may lose more insulation, we’ll have to cut the Neem tree way back, pack away anything loose, and hope for the best.
How are the new board members supporting the restoration plan?
I recently took Dr. George Charitè and Dr. Derrick Bailey to two key locations at the Preserve. The first is an ancient dune ridge that over looks both farmlands and Preserve. The view shows the striking difference in terrain between the flattened, bulldozed farm and the wonderful natural contours of the preserve with it dunes and marsh areas. The rugged terrain and rough ground were perfect for keeping the horses fit, hooves included. Then we walked down to the corral and round pen agreeing that the location was fine and just needed restoration.
Are you rejuvenated by the new board’s enthusiasm?
Their response and interest, after the years of quiet, gives me a big boost.
All work, no play – how do you unwind and relax?
A favorite break is to sit in the cockpit of my boat (home) and watch the incredible summer clouds, vast rising and tumbling thunder filled cumulus, and amazing combinations of enormous wispy and curling mares’ tails that sometimes cover half the sky.
WARHorses is committed in its support of this remarkable endeavor and will continue to provide quarterly updates to our readers.
Photography Courtesy: Milanne Rehor, ArkWild