1. ITV Report

Exmoor ponies return to Durham Wildlife Trust for winter

Visitors are reminded not to feed the ponies Photo: Enid Hoseason

Stunning Exmoor ponies are returning to the Durham Wildlife Trust's headquarters for the winter.

The site at Rainton Meadows, near Houghton le Spring has been the subject of a conservation project in the last few months.

The ponies are settling for winter Credit: Enid Hoseason

DWT brought in the ponies to graze on a number of its nature reserves because their method of grazing is good for wildlife habitats.

Their ability to graze on encroaching rank grasses and tendency to browse means that they naturally improve the species diversity of the sites they inhabit.

One of the biggest summer tasks for volunteer teams is the cutting and raking of wildflower meadows but a conservation grazing programme meant the ponies did the work, enabling volunteers to focus on other tasks.

Durham Wildlife Trust identified eight reserves on which the ponies could graze, including sites throughout Gateshead and County Durham and at the Trust’s two visitor centres, Low Barns near Witton-le-wear and Rainton Meadows. Now, the ponies are returning to Rainton Meadows for the winter.

“The past few months have seen the ponies based across our nature reserves, keeping grasslands in good condition. They have done a terrific job.”

– Mark Dinning - Durham Wildlife Trust

People planning on visiting Rainton Meadows are reminded that they are not domestic animals. They should not be fed and it is not good for their health and they may bite.