Tuesday 27 March 2012

Wild horse foal born at Wildwood

Welcome to Wildwoods' spring baby – cute wild horse foal marks the arrival of spring

Wildwood, Kent's unique wildlife and woodland park, is celebrating its first spring baby, a beautiful wild horse foal.

The new foal is the first konik horse to be born in 2012 and heralds the arrival of spring at the wildlife park. The female foal was born last week and has already been spotted practising running around her enclosure.

Senior keeper Alan Keeling said "This is an exciting time of year when we have births at the park. The new foal is doing very well; she is strong and healthy and is mixing well with the rest of the herd."

Konik foals are able to stand as soon as one hour after birth and start walking and running soon after in order to keep up with the herd. The foal will be weaned at around 2 months and will be eating grass with the rest of the herd by 5 months of age. The foal is unlikely to be named as she will eventually be moved out of the park to join other herds in Wildwood's conservation grazing programme.

Wildwood's Konik horses are part of the trust's conservation grazing programme which uses large herbivores as natural habitat managers. As Koniks are very hardy they require little or no human intervention meaning they can be left to naturally graze over large areas. The horses clear scrub which boosts biodiversity by allowing plants that would otherwise be shaded out to flourish. Their dung also helps to attract new species; beetles and other insects lay their eggs in the dung, the resulting insects then provide food for many species of birds, which in turn can encourage the presence of birds of prey to the area.

The new arrival is currently living with the small herd of horses resident at Wildwood, but most of our horses reside on nature reserves. Wildwood manages herds of Koniks on nature reserves around Kent, at Stodmarsh, Gibben's Brook, Wraik Hill and South Swale. There are public footpaths running through or past all four nature reserves so the horses can be seen by the public. Numbers of horses on the reserves varies as foals are born and horses are moved from one reserve to another in order to avoid inbreeding and to maintain harmony amongst the herd.

Konik horses are just one of the huge range of British animals that can be seen at the Wildwood, near Canterbury, off the A291 between Herne Bay and Canterbury. For more information visit our website at www.wildwoodtrust.org or telephone 0871 782 008.

Pictures attached
Further information on Konik Horses
Wildwood Trust & Kent Wildlife Trust pioneered the re-introduction of these amazing animals to the UK in 2002. The two Kent based nature conservation charities brought the first ever of their breed to arrive in southern England and these horses and their offspring have been helping to restore some of the most precious national nature reserves in the UK.
The Konik horse is the closest living relative of the extinct Tarpan, the wild forest horse that roamed Britain in prehistoric times. The horses are the last descendants of the true wild horse of Britain and Europe and have survived centuries of persecution and even squads of Nazis sent to kidnap them for genetic experiments.
Konik horses show numerous primitive features, associated with their ancestor, the Tarpan. They are resistant to harsh climates and severe weather conditions, hence their extensive range. They are very fertile and can produce numerous offspring in their lifetime. As they are adapted to foraging in the wild, they can live on a limited amount of food and have an extremely resilient immune system. They are very intelligent, allowing them to adapt their diet according to season and food availability. Konik horses do not require horseshoes as their hooves are naturally self-trimming, breaking off as they become too long.

Fiona Paterson
Wildwood Trust
Herne Common
Herne Bay

Registered Charity No 1093702Tel: 01227 712111www.wildwoodtrust.org
email: fiona@wildwoodtrust.org
Wildwood Trust is Kent's unique 'Woodland Discovery Park', a visitor attraction with a difference.
Wildwood is not only the best place to bring the family for a day out, but it is also a bold and innovative new charity, backed by the UK's leading wildlife conservationists. As a new charity Wildwood needs everyone's support in its mission to save our native and once native wildlife from extinction.
Wildwood Trust's vision is to bring back our true 'wildwood', a unique new way of restoring Britain's land to its natural state. This involves releasing large wild herbivores and developing conservation grazing systems to restore natural ecological processes to help Britain team with wildlife again.
The Wildwood 'Woodland Discovery Park' is an ideal day out for all the family where you can come see British Wildlife past and present. Wildwood offers its members and visitors a truly inspirational way to learn about the natural history of Britain by actually seeing the wildlife that once lived here.
Set in a sublime 38 acres of Ancient Woodland, Wildwood offers visitors a truly unique experience. Come Nose to Nose with our secretive badgers, experience what it is like to be hunted by a real live pack of wolves, watch a charging wild boar or see a beaver in his lodge.
Wildwood Trust runs a highly successful programme of Conservation Projects - we are the UK's leading experts in rescuing and re-establishing colonies of Britain's most threatened mammal, the water vole. Wildwood Trust has pioneered the use of ancient wild horses to restore nature reserve. Wildwood Trust has been at the forefront of efforts to re-establish the European Beaver back in Britain where they belong. European Beaver have been proven to help manage water ways to bring back a huge range of plants, insects and animals.

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