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Norfolk Wildlife Trust introduce 16 Dartmoor ponies at two Breckland reserves as part of a conservation project

PUBLISHED: 15:38 07 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 07 June 2017

Sixteen Dartmoor ponies are now calling two Norfolk Wildlife Trust sites home. Picture:  Matt Blissett/Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Sixteen Dartmoor ponies are now calling two Norfolk Wildlife Trust sites home. Picture: Matt Blissett/Norfolk Wildlife Trust

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As part of an ongoing conservation project 16 Dartmoor ponies are settling into their new lives in Norfolk.

The ponies being unloaded at their new homes in Breckland. Picture:  Matt Blissett/Norfolk Wildlife Trust The ponies being unloaded at their new homes in Breckland. Picture: Matt Blissett/Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Ten of the ponies have joined a herd of 41 at Hockwold Heath and six have joined the 9 already at Cranwich Camp, where they will help to restore the grassland habitats at the two Breckland sites.

The ponies being unloaded at their new homes in Breckland. Picture:  Matt Blissett/Norfolk Wildlife Trust The ponies being unloaded at their new homes in Breckland. Picture: Matt Blissett/Norfolk Wildlife Trust

It brings the total number of Dartmoor ponies owned and managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) to 170 - thought to be the biggest collection helping to manage any landscape, outside of Devon.

Dartmoor ponies are particularly good for grazing heathland as they are hardy and can remain outside all year.

They are used to grazing rough grassland and coarse vegetation and help by reducing overgrown vegetation when grazing, so that more specialist heathland plants can thrive.

John Milton, head of nature reserves for NWT, said: “We have sixty-six ponies grazing various sites in Breckland including Weeting and Hockwold Heaths as well as Cranwich Camp.

“They are perfectly suited to grazing these sites which are similar to the environment they come from on Dartmoor.

“Ponies are a vital conservation management tool in these areas as they are well adapted to grazing sites with mixtures of rank grassland, wetland, gorse cover and where the public may walk their dogs.”

Dartmoor ponies are an endangered breed and NWT are helping to maintain the viability of the native pony by buying suitable animals that have been bred on Dartmoor to graze its reserves in the county.

The selection, handling, purchase and transport of the ponies was provided and organised by the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT).

Dru Butterfield of the DPHT said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to assist NWT by supplying good quality Dartmoor ponies for its conservation grazing projects and therefore supporting our Dartmoor farmers who breed them.

“Through initiatives like this we are meeting our aims to help ensure the long term future of the Dartmoor pony as one of our most treasured and important native breeds.”

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