Fens alive with the munching of buffalo

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chippenham Fen, at the heart of the East Anglian countryside, is not normally associated with exotic beasts.

Chippenham Fen, at the heart of the East Anglian countryside, is not normally associated with exotic beasts.

The boggy wetland has remained unchanged for centuries, providing an ideal home for reeds but leaving it decidedly short of livestock.

That all changed yesterday with the release of four Asian water buffalo brought in as environmental managers for the fen, a National Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire.

The buffaloes' task is to keep 40 acres of wetland cropped by grazing on the rough grass and plants that have to be cut down by English Nature each summer. Cattle would turn their noses up at the vegetation, but water buffalo are less fussy. Yesterday, the three steers and one cow appeared to have settled in and were wallowing in a ditch, Kevin Warrington, an assistant site manager, said.

Water buffalo were first introduced to Britain in the 13th century by the Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III. The four released yesterday were acquired from a farm near Cardigan Bay in Wales where their rich milk was sold to mozzarella cheese-makers.

Comments