Thursday, 9 May 2013

Four-legged employee is welcomed by charity

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) is celebrating the birth of a new staff member - one with four legs. Early on the morning of Monday 6 May one of DWT's herd of six pedigree Exmoor ponies gave birth to a colt (male) foal at the charity's Meeth Quarry nature reserve, near Hatherleigh. Meeth Quarry's Nature Reserve Officer is Ian Chadwick. Ian had been nervously anticipating the birth for several weeks and said: "I've been on 'foal watch' for awhile now, but of course the baby arrived very early on Bank Holiday Monday when no one was around. Nevertheless, mother and foal are doing very well, although the youngster was a bit wobbly to start with." Ian continued: "Our next job is to name the foal. With the mother being called 'Liquorice' we plan to carry on with a tradition of sweet names. The frontrunners at the moment are 'Fudge', 'Toffee' and 'Rock'." The arrival is especially welcome because it strengthens a vital team of workers within Devon Wildlife Trust. Speaking about their important role, the charity's Steve Hussey said: "The herd of Exmoor ponies are our unpaid workforce at Meeth Quarry. They work 24 hours a day, seven days a week munching the rank grasses and scrubby shrubs which would otherwise quickly overwhelm the nature reserve's open areas." Meeth Quarry is Devon Wildlife Trust's most recent acquisition. It was purchased in December 2012 using funds from Viridor Credits Environmental Company and generous local donors. At 150 hectares it is one of the largest of the charity's 48 reserves. Its Exmoor ponies are playing a crucial role in its upkeep. Using funding from Natural England, Devon Wildlife Trust has been busy since January improving the nature reserve for visitors and wildlife. Amongst many changes it has installed a number of trails for walkers, wheelchair users and cyclists. These paths link to the Tarka Trail which passes through the centre of the site which was a working clay quarry until 2004. At present Meeth nature reserve is not yet open to visitors but Devon Wildlife Trust is planning an opening event at Meeth Quarry nature reserve on Friday 31 May between 10.30am and 4.30pm. The free event will be a chance for people to visit the site for the first time and may be to catch a glimpse of charity's latest 'staff member' - the Exmoor foal. 
"Mother 'Liquorice' keeps a maternal eye over Devon Wildlife Trust's latest team member." - Photo copyright Devon Wildlife

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