Sometimes the solution you're looking for is right in front of your face. For example, if you'd like to save the ponies that roam the moors of southwestern England, perhaps you should ... eat one. This is the suggestion being bandied about by the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association to rescue the pony population there: Their numbers have fallen from 25,000 in the 1930s to fewer than 800 currently, the Telegraph reports. The reason some think the scarf-down strategy will work: It would create a "sustainable market" for the ponies. Herders would have an incentive to take good care of their animals if they could eventually sell them as meat, and those not sold as food could be trained for riding and driving. "Strangely, having a meat trade should improve a pony's chances of finding a new home at sales," argues Charlotte Faulkner, head of the DHPA.
Princess Anne is also an eat-the-pony/save-the-pony advocate for animal-welfare purposes: In a speech to a horse charity last year, she said herd owners would actually treat the animals better if they knew they had to maintain the herds until they were old enough to kill for meat (the ponies have to be at least 3 years old to qualify, notes Faulkner). Other conservation groups are backing the initiative, claiming there are too many abandoned ponies wandering around—unwanted ponies that were being fed to zoo lions and tigers and stripped of their hides to make "wild pony" drums, reported the Daily Mail last year. "Why not promote the free-living Exmoor ponies as a food animal as much as an amenity or aesthetic resource?" says a horse expert in a report by local advocacy groups, notes the Telegraph. (Horse meat is apparently already in 5% of the beef in Europe.)