Sunday 18 April 2021

Dutch reserve ponies found new homes in Spain and Belarus

The reserve is surrounded by fencing. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Some 180 of the Konik ponies living in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve are being moved to nature reserves in Spain and Belarus, the forestry commission Staatsbosbeheer said on Wednesday.

The ponies are being taken to new homes as part of efforts to reduce the number of large mammals on the reserve, following the mass starvation in the 2017/18 winter.

In total, 1,800 red deer are being culled, and the number of ponies reduced to 450. The cattle population will remain unchanged.

Large mammals were introduced in the reserve in the 1980s and 1990s in what has proved to be a controversial move. Reserve wardens hoped that the deer and ponies would eat young shoots, keeping the area open so it will attract geese and other wetland birds.

In the original plan, the reserve was to be linked to the Veluwe region, but that was scrapped as part of budget cuts. The province has been in charge of the reserve since 2016 and a plans are now being made to open the area up to tourism.

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