'Unique' Carneddau wild ponies 'under threat'

Researchers have warned that the Carneddau ponies are under threat. Credit: Aberystwyth University

Aberystwyth University researchers say they have established that wild ponies grazing on the Carneddau Mountains in Snowdonia are "genetically unique."

They say the Carneddau ponies need to be conserved to protect their existence - especially as many died in the recent snow, "dramatically reducing their numbers."

Clare Winton, a Ph.D student who did the study, said: “Although the Carneddau ponies have shared ancestry with the Welsh Section A pony, they exhibit unique mutations while maintaining high genetic diversity, demonstrating that the population has been isolated for at least several hundred years."

Dr Nash, from the university, said: “The existence of the Carneddau ponies is threatened by financial pressure such as costs associated with the legal requirement to passport and microchip every horse in the UK."

The Carneddau ponies play a vital role within the mountain ecology of the Snowdonia National Park, as they are involved in a grazing scheme maintaining the preferred habitat for the endangered bird, the red-billed chough.