Author Mark Monk-Terry
Countryfile will feature the arrival of three Exmoor ponies to our Levin Down nature reserve
Countryfile’s Adam Henson travelled with the ponies to their new Sussex home where they will live out the rest of their lives. The three yearlings; two fillies and a colt even have their own passports, which Adam handed to me before he left. Named Zola, Zara and Zeus, the ponies are not used to human contact and will avoid people. We ask that people visiting the reserve don’t try to pet or feed them.
Grazing by a variety of animals such as ponies and sheep is essential to our land management plan as it allows rare plants and wildlife to thrive by removing coarse grasses and scrub which can block sunlight. We expect to see an increase in wild flowers such as round-headed rampion as a direct result of the ponies arrival as well as clustered bellflower and cowslip and butterflies such as the brown argus and the chalkhill blue.
Ponies have a different pattern of grazing from the sheep already hard at work on the reserve, being able to tackle more woody scrub, and reach up to a higher browse line. As an added bonus we are pleased to help with the conservation of this Exmoor breed, which is listed as ‘endangered’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.