Nigel and Joshua’s Lad grazing Litcham Common

Nigel and Joshua’s Lad join the grazing ponies on local wildlife site

Wednesday 25 April, 2018

Two Dartmoor Ponies are settling in to their new home at Litcham Common in West Norfolk, where they will graze the heath for wildlife. Norfolk Wildlife Trust has worked with the site’s management committee to purchase and safely deliver the ponies.

Litcham Common in West Norfolk  is a County Wildlife Site, cared for by a local management committee since 1984. It is mostly lowland heath, with areas of wet woodland and ponds. Over the past 14 years the committee has worked hard to bring about wildlife management on the common, establishing a conservation volunteer group and re-introducing grazing. This has involved fencing the boundary of the common and putting cattle grids on the road. Grazing is by Dartmoor ponies (year round) and local cattle (during the summer only).

The indigenous Dartmoor pony is officially recognised as an endangered breed. It is a small, hardy pony with a proven ability to maintain itself on poor vegetation in exposed conditions. They are also one of the more placid native ponies making them excellent conservation grazers, especially on sites with public access.

Conservation Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Helen Baczkowska said: “The management of Litcham Common by local volunteers has been a fantastic achievement. The grazing on the site has created and maintained open, sunny habitats, ideal for species like heather and adders. When the Litcham Common management committee decided to buy two more ponies to help with the grazing, we were pleased to help by funding half the purchase cost and helping them find the right ponies from Dartmoor, with the help of the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust.”

Litcham management committee member Tim Angell said: ““It has been fantastic to have Nigel and Joshua’s Lad arrive on Litcham Common (and I think their names are great too!). We already had three Dartmoor ponies on the common and now have a good sized group to carry on the conservation grazing for the foreseeable future. We are very grateful indeed for all the help and advice given to us by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which has included a grant of £500 and transporting the ponies from Dartmoor to Litcham. We are also fortunate to have a really good group of volunteers who will keep their eyes on the new ponies as they settle down on the common.”

NWT Grazing Manager, David Tallentire added: “This is another great opportunity for us to protect Norfolk’s biodiversity and help secure the future of a vulnerable native pony. They thrive on the grass heaths of Norfolk, areas not dissimilar to Dartmoor. It is important to maintain the ponies’ wildness, because if they become too tame they can become overly-friendly to the public rather than carry out important conservation grazing. If you see the ponies at Litcham Common, please enjoy watching them from a distance.”
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