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More animals to live the wild life at Ken Hill

More rare animals will soon be arriving to help out at the nature restoration project at Ken Hill, Heacham, and they will all have an important job to do.

There will be a herd of Red Poll cattle, two ginger Tamworth pigs and a couple of male beavers.

The cattle will be busy grazing the 1,500-acre site keeping the grass and shrub down, the pigs will do the digging and, if everything goes according to plan, the beavers will have romantic liaisons with the existing pair of females and kickstart a breeding programme.

Some of these Red Poll cows from a herd in Essex will be coming to Wild Ken HIll (40253097)
Some of these Red Poll cows from a herd in Essex will be coming to Wild Ken HIll (40253097)

Project manager, Dominic Buscall, described the news as “hugely exciting for Wild Ken Hill” and an important new step towards scheme to give the land back to nature.

He said that once the perimeter fencing is finished, probably early in October, they will be able to welcome 35 Red Poll heifers, in-calf cows and a couple of calves from a herd in Essex.

He explained that they chose Red Poll, which is native to Norfolk and Suffolk,, because it is a hardy breed which is non-horned and, bearing in mind there is a public footpath through the site, is known to be docile.

Around the same time two rare Tamworth sows will arrive. The Tamworth is considered to be Britain’s oldest pure breed of pig and is an expert at rooting. Their job will be to disturb the soil and help create new eco-systems.

Also on the way this month are two male beavers coming here from wild populations in Scotland. They will join the females, Ebb and Flow, who were introduced to an enclosure at Wild Ken Hill in March.

Cameras have shown that since then Ebb has found a large pond where she seems to be very comfortable feeding on the willow and Flow has plugged some old culverts to create a long linear wetland system toward the north of the enclosure.

But Dominic said that there has been no sign of any lodge-building behaviour, possibly because the coronavirus crisis stopped plans to introduce males.

He hopes this will soon change. “The good news is that two males are due to join our females very shortly. Both are also due to be sourced from wild populations in Scotland.

We expect them to pair up with the two females, and hopefully breed in the coming season. With greater numbers of beavers in the enclosure and, with winter to come, we’re expecting there to be plenty more damming and lodge-building activity.

“While the beavers go about re-wetting this area of woodland, the broader rewilding project continues to evolve.” he said in his reguar blog on the Wild Ken Hill website. “The post-agricultural fields were a bright mess of plants this year, our initial work in the woodland is kickstarting natural processes, and now we have wild cattle and pigs due to be introduced.”

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