Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham is about to introduce wild grazing animals
An important development in the rewilding project covering thousands of acres at Snettisham is about to take place with the imminent introduction of wild grazing animals.
Within weeks Wild Ken Hill will become the new home to Red Poll cattle, Exmoor ponies and Tamworth pigs. All the animals will contribute to the conservation project by roaming and grazing, which bring multiple benefits to the landscape, such as soil disturbance, and enhance habitats.
This latest development follows on from the introduction last week of two male beavers to the site.
Ahead of the introduction of wild herbivores to Wild Ken Hill, a perimeter fence has been installed around the rewilding area specifically designed to keep livestock in, with netting at the bottom to prevent the pigs escaping, with a barbed strand at a sufficient height to prevent the cattle and ponies from forcing it over.
Wild Ken Hill has explained that the fence will not prevent public access. In its latest blog it states: "Public access on the Snettisham circular and Ken Hill circular walks will remain the same, and we encourage all users of these wonderful footpaths to continue enjoying the woods, and we hope that they enjoy watching the animals roam freely through the area during walks.
"We will be providing updates through our social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) on the precise timing and location of the wild cattle, pony and pig releases. We are hoping to make the releases visible from the public footpaths, so any walkers can take the time to enjoy the special moment the animals enter their new home."
The Red Poll is a hardy rare breed, derived from the original cattle of Norfolk and Suffolk, with a dark red body. The breed is small in size and has a calm nature, so should pose no problems to walkers using local footpaths.
Around 30 head of the cattle will be introduced, made up mostly of in-calf cows with last year’s calf still at foot, as well as a few heffers, so there will be no bulls to start with.
About ten Exmoor ponies are due to arrive which are considered to be one of the hardiest of rare breeds and well suited to spending all year roaming the rewilding area.
In addition to the wild deer population, the Red Poll and Exmoors will graze and browse off vegetation enhancing the habitat on the overgrown heathland in the rewilding area, as well as creating the woodland pasture environment that is associated with very high biodiversity.
Their dung also helps to cycle nutrients and they carry seeds around in their fur which helps vegetation to spread.
Two Tamworth pigs will be released into the rewilding area, which will replicate the behaviour of the wild boar. The Tamworths disturb the soil, almost ploughing the top layer as they search for food. This behaviour helps vegetation to regenerate. A mature Tamworth sow can disturb around 50 acres of top soil in a year.