A horse drawn carriage passes by in a street on the island of Buyukada off Istanbul on November 29, 2019. - It's one of the classic excursions in Istanbul: a boat journey to one of the car-free Princes' Islands followed by a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. But the carriage rides have become increasingly controversial in recent years as activists sound the alarm over the welfare of the horses. Some 400 a year are dying on the islands, a parliament committee reported in October, and activists say the real number is twice as high. (Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

Istanbul reins in carriage rides over ‘dying horses’

ISTANBUL, Dec 23 — It has been one of the classic excursions for tourists and locals in Istanbul: A boat trip to one of the car-free Princes’ Islands followed by a ride in a horse-drawn carriage through pine forests and past elegant mansions and houses where Turkish writers lived.

But its days may be numbered after the Istanbul authorities on Friday announced a three-month ban on the carriage rides following mounting alarm over the welfare of the horses.

Up to 400 are dying on the islands a year from overwork and lack of care, a parliament committee reported in October, and activists say the real number is twice as high.

Citing disease, malnutrition and neglect, activists have called for the industry to be replaced with more humane — if less romantic — electric vehicles.

The horses are “merely seen as lifeless objects” and “no different from transport vehicles like buses”, said Elif Erturk, of the “Don’t Take Carriages, Horses Are Dying” initiative, which has organised protests and petitions.

“There are horses injured because of overworking and maltreatment. They are not being treated and therefore they die,” she said.

AFP journalists were given access last month to the newest stables built in 2006 on the largest of the islands, Buyukada, where horses were standing in their own manure and only makeshift panels separated their stalls.

Near the stables, horse bones could be seen scattered on the ground.

“The stables are disastrous, full of dirt and trash,” Erturk said. “It is not possible for any living thing to survive there.”

There are no vets or animal hospitals on the islands, and AFP also saw horses with open wounds pulling carriages.

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Ban the carriage horse trade worldwide. It’s had its day. It is outdated, cruel and deadly to horses.


FEATURED IMAGES: A horse drawn carriage passes by in a street on the island of Buyukada off Istanbul on November 29, 2019. “It’s one of the classic excursions in Istanbul: a boat journey to one of the car-free Princes’ Islands followed by a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. But the carriage rides have become increasingly controversial in recent years as activists sound the alarm over the welfare of the horses. Some 400 a year are dying on the islands, a parliament committee reported in October, and activists say the real number is twice as high“. (Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

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