Victory for horses’ welfare on Istanbul islands

Campaigners against the use of horse-drawn carriages on the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul on the Sea of Marmara have won a victory, with the introduction of electric vehicles that are expected to replace the island’s working horses.

Horses have long been a characteristic fixture on the touristic islands, where motorised vehicles had been banned.

However, the poor conditions of many of the horses, which are used to draw carriages for visitors to the islands, has sparked anger among activists and citizens concerned for the animals’ welfare.

A report by Turkish animal rights group HAKİM revealed that, out of approximately 1500 horses worked on the islands, at least 400 died per year.

Animal rights campaigner Elif Narin said the horses on the island, which are reportedly forced to work without food or water, had a life expectancy of just two years. The normal life expectancy for a horse is 20.

The Istanbul Municipal Council announced that electric vehicles carrying as many as 12 passengers would be introduced to one of the islands, Kinaliada, this week.

Fares for the vehicles will be payable by Istanbulkart, the city’s contactless smart card for transport.