Second Exmoor herd introduced to Czech Republic

  • A second herd of Exmoor ponies has been introduced to the Czech Republic.

    In March this year, the first 14 mares were released into a 40-hectare area on a former army base — around 20 miles from Prague — after arriving from the UK in January.

    A stallion was introduced later in the spring.

    The project was a success and the European Wildlife programme, part-funded by the Czech Republic State Environment Fund programme, decided it wanted more ponies.

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    On Thursday (17 December) a further 14 mares from Exmoor were released near Prague to form a second herd.

    A stallion, called Tawbitts Merlin, is expected to join them by the end of the year.

    The project was coordinated by the Moorland Mousie Trust, which runs the Exmoor Pony Centre, alongside the Exmoor Pony Society and the Exmoor Committee of Herd Owners.

    Selecting the ponies began in the autumn when the herds were gathered in from the moors.

    Strict veterinary testing was needed before they were allowed to travel.

    “We were delighted to hear the Czech project wanted to source more Exmoor ponies,” said Sue McGeever from the Exmoor Pony Society.

    “To take ponies from the free-living herds of Exmoor is a great boost to keeping the herds thriving and ensuring future sustainable breeding programmes.”

    The ponies’ journey began on 14 December when they left Exmoor and took an overnight ferry from Dover to the continent.

    They then had an overnight stop in Frankfurt before arriving in the Czech Republic.

    The new herd will be running on a new 120-hectare pasture in a former military training area in Milovice near Prague.

    They will also be sharing their grazing site with a herd of eight bison, imported from a nature reserve in Poland.

    The area is a prairieland habitat, which includes critically endangered plant and animal species.

    A young pine forest makes up part of the reserve and hawthorne groves will provide shelter.

    As well as this, scientists have created several waterholes and a well to give the ponies a permanent source of water.

    “Without the enormous support of the Exmoor Pony Society, herd owners, landowners and a compassionate vet the project wouldn’t have gone so smoothly,” added Juliet Rogers of the Moorland Mousie Trust.

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