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How rare cattle will help prevent wildfires at Upton Heath
TWO rare British White cattle are helping to restore the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve at Upton Heath.
Brendon and Dragon can be spotted on the reserve this autumn, helping the three Shetland Cattle already helping to keep vegetation in check.
Generous donations from the public after the blaze that destroyed a third of the 500-acre wildlife haven, have funded the cattle whose grazing will encourage the return of heathland plants to the burnt area and reduce the risk of fire across the heath.
British Whites are an old native breed going back to at least the 17th century and are now listed as a minority breed. They will be joined during the winter by three others of the same breed, bought by DWT with Borough of Poole.
More than £50,000 was raised by public appeal after last year’s fire and this was instrumental in getting further funding of nearly £120,000 from SITA Trust.
Andy Fale, the trust’s Upton Heath restoration project officer said: “Grazing Upton Heath is the traditional and best way to restore and manage this very rare wildlife habitat.
“The Shetlands have made a great start since July and the British Whites will help them in keeping this large area in the best condition for its rare wildlife and reducing the amount of burnable vegetation in the event of a fire.
“Both breeds are hardy and they don’t hesitate to get into the hard-to-reach parts of the reserve, showing why British rare breeds are perfect for conservation management.”
He added: “The animals are all dog and people friendly but please do not feed them or allow your dog to worry them. They have plenty to eat and drink and are checked regularly, but if you have any concerns about their welfare, please ring 07823 534687.”