Herd of wild ‘Konik’ horses to be expanded
A HERD of rare, wild “Konik” horses, drafted in at a Scottish nature reserve to help control the growth of coarse grass and rushes, is to be expanded.
The RSPB has announced that another four wild horses are to join the eight Konik horses deployed last April at the Loch of Strathbeg reserve, north of Peterhead, following the success of the pioneering grass control scheme.
By grazing on coarse grass and rushes, the ponies are helping to ensure the wetlands are in top condition for swans, geese and other visiting birds
Richard Humpidge, site manager at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, said staff had been so impressed by their ability to munch through courser grass, sedges and rushes that they had decided to increase the herd.
He said: “The koniks are a very popular and important conservation tool, they love to eat the tough vegetation that we used to have to spend a lot of time and money stripping away with machines. As they are so effective we’ve decided to increase the herd slowly and naturally through a breeding programme, that way we can monitor their progress and ensure we reach a grazing level that will is beneficial for the thousands of geese, ducks and wading birds that need the wetlands to feed and breed.”
A spokesman for the RSPB explained: “To ensure the koniks can work undisturbed they will once again be kept on the less public areas of the reserve. However, visitors will be able to see them distantly from the hides and follow their progress on the website.
“Konik horses graze intensively in small areas so their effects are long lasting and resounding. Although they are wild, they will be confined to certain areas of the reserve that require more concentrated habitat management approach.”
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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