5 Dartmoor ponies have arrived at Devil's Dyke to help look after the rare Chalk Grassland and Iron Age Hillfort.
They are grazing over Summerdown, Dyke Valley and Hillfort which covers quite a large area and The National Trust have reminded visitors that, although they look cute, these animals are wild and feisty. Please do not feed them and keep dogs on leads at all times.
National Trust/Helen Osorio
The ponies are there to help restore the internationally rare grass habitat. Chalk Grassland can support up to 40 different species of plants per square metre, making it very biodiverse. The plant species are slow growing and can be easily over run by faster growing species like bramble and gorse. Working with the cows, the Dartmoor ponies will help by trampling on the tough gorse and bramble stems, eating new shoots and slowing them down allowing delicate plants to flourish.
Ponies have different mouths to cows, allowing them to browse amongst the spiky plants that cows are less able to access. They will push into rough areas that the cows don’t go, opening them up and creating new habitats for chalk grassland plants and insects like butterflies to thrive.
The local community stock watch team have also reminded dog walkers on their Facebook page of the importance of clearing up after their animals and removing plastic bags to ensure the ponies and cows remain safe.
Any questions regarding the ponies can be answered by Helen at the National Trust estate office at Saddlecombe on 01273857712