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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
'Extinct' horses back in the wild
Przewalski horse
The horses will help keep down the scrub within the forest
Three rare horses classified as extinct in the wild have been set free to help protect an Iron Age settlement.

The Przewalski horses will roam around a 12-acre paddock in Clocaenog Forest near Ruthin in Denbighshire.

The horses once roamed Britain 4,000 years ago and visitors to the forest will now be able to see them in the 21st Century.

The animals were introduced by the Forestry Commission after they were bred at Colwyn Bay Mountain Zoo.

"Although they are known as the Mongolian wild horse, the Przewalski's horse roamed Britain 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, so this truly is a scene from the past," said the Forestry Commission's conservation manager Iolo Lloyd.

"Przewalski's horses appear on cave paintings, and now we've brought them back to the forest after all this time as part of a modern approach to the challenge of managing this significant site."

Przewalski horses
Przewalski horses were a common sight 4,000 years ago

The site in the Clocaenog Forest was designated by Cadw, the agency which protects historical Wales, because it was once an Iron Age settlement with livestock enclosures where animals were held overnight.

The re-introduction of the horses will help protect the site.

"There are many benefits from grazing," said Iolo Lloyd.

"Because it's a scheduled ancient monument, we're not allowed to take vehicles on the site.

"We also have problems of scrub control but because these horses are extremely hardy they will eat a lot of the scrub, thereby helping vegetation structure and biodiversity.

"It's more environmentally friendly than throwing chemicals all over the place and, of course, the horses are managing the site without us having to pay someone to come in and do it," he added.

Visitors to the forest can now view the horses at first hand after a viewing platform was erected.

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