Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Horsing Around Helps Wildlife

By Philpickin @philpickin
I really do wish the RSPB could come up with some better titles for their press releases. Here is their latest.
The latest conservationists for the RSPB are of the four-legged variety.  
Wild Konik ponies are turning their skills to nature reserve management and greeting visitors as a group of them have arrived to help the RSPB make its Blacktoft Sands reserve an even better place for wildlife. 
Four ponies have come up from the RSPB ‘s Minsmere site in Suffolk to graze the large fields of the Humber reserve, which will create suitable conditions for ground-nesting birds such as lapwings. By managing the land with natural horsepower, the plan is to reduce the need for expensive machinery and fuel. 
Mike Andrews, RSPB Blacktoft Sands Visitor Officer, says, “We think the ponies will be a real hit with our visitors as they’re not our typical feathered friends.  They are generally placid and look cute, but remember they are still essentially wild animals so we are asking people not to pet them and keep a respectful distance.” 
Meaning “small horse” in its native Poland, the Konik is a small but hardy breed, directly descended from the Tarpan, a wild horse driven to extinction in central Europe in the late 19th century.
Tougher than their domestic cousins, Konik ponies can survive temperatures of up to minus 40 degrees, are rarely ill and are adept at foraging. This means that they can largely be left to their own devices.
Konik ponies have been grazing many nature reserves in Europe for the benefit of wildlife during the past decade and in recent years they have started appearing in some reserves in the UK.  The RSPB also have Koniks at Portmore Lough in Northern Ireland and Loch of Strathbeg in eastern Scotland. Having successfully bred at the RSPB’s Minsmere reserve, it is believed that these are the first Koniks in Yorkshire.
RSPB Blacktoft Sands is situated between Ousefleet and Adlingfleet near Goole. For more information visit© Phil Pickin

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