Ponies arriving at Cranwich Camp by Matt Blissett

From Dartmoor to Breckland


Wednesday 07 June, 2017


New ponies settle in to manage Cranwich Camp, Norfolk. 


Sixteen Dartmoor Ponies are settling in to their new homes at Hockwold Heath and Cranwich Camp in Norfolk as part of an ongoing Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) conservation project, part funded by Biffa Award Landfill Communities Fund to restore grassland habitats on the heathland.

The ponies arrived in Norfolk from Dartmoor in early April with ten ponies going to Hockwold Heath and six to Cranwich Camp.  There is now a herd of fifty-one ponies at Hockwold and fifteen in total at Cranwich Camp.  This brings the total number of Dartmoor ponies owned and managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust to 170 - thought to be the biggest collection of Dartmoor ponies helping to manage any landscape, outside of Devon.

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

The selection, handling and transport of the ponies was provided and organised by the charity - the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT) as part of its on-going work to support the Dartmoor Pony on Dartmoor by seeking good homes for the ponies and ensuring a realistic income for the pony keepers who breed them.

John Milton Head of Nature Reserves for Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: “We are delighted to have purchased some more ponies from Dartmoor and we are really pleased to see them settling in so well.  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."

He continued, “As well as providing an important role in conservation grazing, NWT welcomes the opportunity to help protect the future of the Dartmoor pony. The NWT herd continues to grow, forming a significant herd of ‘bloodlines’ for the preservation of this valuable British native breed outside Dartmoor.”

Norfolk Wildlife Trust purchased all its ponies through DPHT because the charity understands the Trust’s particular needs and is able to coordinate with its pony keepers and NWT’s wardens to find and prepare the ponies for their role in Norfolk.

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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