Photo showing the mass death of feral horses near Santa Teresa, Central Australia, 22 January 2019. The record-breaking heat wave and drought dried up their waterhole. Photo: Ralph Turner / Facebook

By Matt Garrick
22 January 2019

(ABC News) – A mass feral horse death at the base of a dry waterhole in Central Australia has been blamed on an extreme heatwave in the region.

Around two dozen brumbies in various stages of decomposition have been discovered strewn along a 100-metre stretch of a swimming spot called Deep Hole, 20 kilometres from the remote community of Santa Teresa.

The region has hit a record 12-day run of temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius, and it is poised to hit 13 days in Alice Springs on Wednesday.

Arrernte artist and activity engagement officer Ralph Turner stumbled upon the grim scene last week after he travelled to the location to assess how the heatwave had affected the pool's water levels.

He said it was the first time he had ever seen anything like it.

"We found all these poor horses, all perished," Mr Turner said.

"We've been having hot weather, day after day.

"I just couldn't believe something like that happened out here, first time it happened like that."

Photo showing the mass death of feral horses near Santa Teresa, Central Australia, 22 January 2019. The record-breaking heat wave and drought dried up their waterhole. Photo: Ralph Turner / Facebook

The Red Centre has been scorching under an unprecedented heatwave for much of the summer.

In Alice Springs, around 80km from Santa Teresa, the town's airport on Tuesday eclipsed the longest stretch of days above 42C since the weather station opened in 1940.

Santa Teresa media mentor Rohan Smyth said the temperatures in the community were usually around 5C hotter than in the Alice township.

"The wild horses have gone down there looking for their water which is normally there, and it's not been there, so essentially they've just had nowhere to go," Mr Smyth said. [more]

Mass death of feral horses discovered in scorching, dry Central Australian waterhole

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