From mid-May, The Parks Trust will be introducing wild Konik ponies to the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve near Old Wolverton.
Konik ponies will become residents at the reserve, located in the Great Ouse Valley near Old Wolverton, grazing the area and filling a vital role in its management.
These animals will eat grasses, reeds, waterside plants and shrubs and help to create and maintain a diverse landscape attractive to a wide range of flora and fauna.
The ponies, which The Parks Trust bought from The National Trust, have a very calm and placid temperament and are not easily frightened.
They will not be handled too often as the Trust wants them to remain as wild as possible but they will be subject to daily visual inspections and looked at more closely once a week.
Konik ponies are ideal grazers in wetland sites as they are very hardy and show a number of adaptations to wet sites, such as self-trimming hooves.
They are the perfect breed to encourage biodiversity as they closely crop some areas of grassland leaving other areas of long vegetation untouched.
The introduction of the four Konik ponies is part of The Parks Trust’s ongoing aim to return the area to resemble what it might have looked like more than 5,000 years ago – a wildlife-rich floodplain forest.
Horses like these may have inhabited the Ouse Valley many thousands of years ago.
The Koniks, which originate from eastern Europe but in recent decades have become increasingly popular in UK conservation, will be resident for most of the year and will only be moved out in times of flooding or if they are needed to graze elsewhere.
Martin Kincaid, Biodiversity Officer for The Parks Trust, said: “We are really excited to be able to introduce these magnificent animals to Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve. “It has long been our desire to introduce ponies to this site and we believe that the nature reserve will really benefit from having these animals grazing.
“We ask visitors to the nature reserve to enjoy the ponies from a distance but not to approach them too closely and certainly not to offer them food.”
The Parks Trust would like to remind visitors to the reserve to keep dogs on a short lead here as there is so much sensitive wildlife on site such as nesting birds.
For more information visit www.theparkstrust.com