New wild horse reserve established today thanks to collaboration with Birdlife International

2023 - 12 - 08

Another significant milestone in the development of the Monks Meadows bird park managed by the Czech branch of the conservation organisation Birdlife International was today’s release of four wild mares that arrived at the site from the European Serengeti large ungulate reserve near Prague.

“There are currently three dominant plant species here – reed canary grass, common nettle, and great manna grass. The horses will suppress the dominant grass and nettle species by grazing, providing room for other plants and, in particular, reducing the height of the cover, bringing more light to shallow pools and depressions and making them accessible for wading birds,” said Zdenek Vermouzek, director of the Czech branch of Birdlife International.

“The fourteenth large ungulate reserve in which our conservation organisation took part has been created at Monks Meadows,” said Dalibor Dostal, director of the conservation organisation European Wildlife, which provided the animals for the new reserve free of charge. “We are pleased that it is the Czech branch of Birdlife International, a prominent and respected conservation organisation that can do a great deal for spreading this method of landscape management, that is working so actively with the natural grazing of large ungulates. The new site is located in the north of the Czech Republic.

Through its mosaic arrangement, long-term grazing will also support invertebrates, thus enhancing the food sources for insect-eating birds. “At the same time, the horses will help make the edges of pools muddy by trampling on them, creating excellent conditions for the northern lapwing and common snipe to collect food. Little ringed plovers and passerines such as stonechats or even warblers gather invertebrates at muddy places as well. The mosaic arrangement of the cover along with waterlogged conditions may also attract rare spotted crakes, which regularly stop over at Monks Meadows in the nesting season. We are very curious what the forthcoming nesting season will show,” said an enthusiastic Josef Rutterle, manager of the Monks Meadows bird park.

Exmoor horses are a very resilient and self-sufficient breed that can stay outdoors on pastures all year round. Thanks to the fact that, unlike common practice, they will not be given antihelminthic drugs, their droppings will be rich in insects, thereby becoming another lure for meadow birds.

Grazing combined with the existing management methods such as the digging of pools and landscaping will only improve the regeneration and care of the Monks Meadows bird park and the creation of ideal conditions for birds and other animals.

A fifteenth large ungulate reserve will open soon in the South Bohemian Region near the border with Austria.

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