Nature reserve recruits herd of rare wild horses

Konik Wild Horses
Konik Wild Horses by Gwen Dolen

Stephen Christie, writing for The Press and Journal, reports:

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Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) hopes eight Konik foals will help improve Wetlands

    A north-east nature reserve has recruited a herd of rare horses to help improve its wetland habitats.

    It is hoped the eight konik foals will help the conservation work being done at the RSPB’s Loch of Strathbeg site, near Crimond in Buchan, through their natural grazing.

    Hardier than their domestic cousins, the horses can cope in harsh climates and forage in the wild.

    Experts say their ability to graze on coarser grass, sedges and rushes can also help boost biodiversity.

    Loch of Strathbeg manager Dominic Funnell said:

    “Koniks love eating rank tussocky vegetation and we have lots of it at Strathbeg.

    “Currently we have to artificially strip it away to ensure our wetlands remain in top condition, but now, thanks to the grazing habits of these horses, we can ditch the machines and get back to a natural approach to habitat management.”

    Mr Funnell said the horses’ arrival would also be welcomed by the many species of birds that call the loch home.

    He added:

    “It’s great news for the geese, swans, ducks and wading birds, like lapwings and curlew, which need wetlands to feed and breed, and it means we will have more time to concentrate on other conservation work.

    “These horses will be doing an important job for us, so to make sure they’re not disturbed, they’ll be working on the less public areas of the reserve.

    “Visitors will be able to see them distantly from Tower Pool hide and be able to hear more about their work in the visitor centre and on the reserve website.”

    Before their arrival in the north-east yesterday, the foals were being cared for by the Canterbury-based conservation charity the Wildwood Trust.

    The group has already enlisted koniks as part of another conservation grazing project on nature reserves in Kent.

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Horses in History
“Rare horse breed proves crucial to delicate ecosystem”
http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/horsesinhistory/konik.shtml