Twenty-five semi feral scrub ponies have been rounded up and removed from 2,000 acres of common land near Blaenavon in South Wales.

They were gathered over a six-month period from the end of September by members of the equine charity, Bransby Home of Rest for Horses.

The action was taken as part of an initiative by the Scrub Pony Control Group, which was formed in response to the growing problem of illegally grazed ponies on common land across South Wales.

Last year a young boy was hospitalised following an attack from a stallion on common land near Blaenavon after he was bitten on the chest.

The round-up — which was completed at the end of March — was made more difficult by heavy snow last winter and the fact the region covered a huge area with few landmarks.

The team would leave hay in pens to trap the ponies, which gladly took the food at a time when there was little else around for them to eat.

“These animals had never had a human hand on them; they are completely wild,” said Bransby general manager Philip York, who conducted the round up. “The trick is to keep them very calm.”

The ponies have been relocated to the Bransby Home at Leominster in Herefordshire where they will stay because, as wild animals, they are not suitable to be re-homed.

Mr York said: “Illegally grazed ponies are a big problem across the commons of South Wales. Left to fend for themselves, their welfare needs are rarely attended to. They receive no worming or footcare, in winter they compete for grazing with other stock such as sheep and are often found starving. When they are sick or injured they rarely receive veterinary attention.

“It is an unfortunate situation for the ponies as well as those commoners with bonafide grazing rights, as illegally grazed ponies are preventing those with commoner’s rights from turning their own stock onto the hill. Hopefully once illegal ponies are removed we will see a return to quality Welsh mountain pony herds, properly managed, grazing the hills and commons of South Wales”.