The Rare Breeds Survival Trust monitors breeds at risk. Its ‘Watchlist’ for this year identifies concerns for a number of breeds

THE RBST says there are ‘significant concerns’ this year for a number of breeds and, in the case of equines and pigs, whole species. The Devon Closewool sheep’s population fell below 3,000 registered breeding females and came on to the Watchlist in category 5 ‘Minority’. Sadly, this year the Large White moved from Category 5 to 4. Part of the reason for this is that approximately 50% of the registered breeding female Large White were, up until last year, kept by just four breeders, one of whom has since suffered a major fire in which all of the stock was lost.

The situation for horses and ponies has to be viewed in the national context, says the RBST. Britain is in “a huge and unprecedented welfare crisis” (British Horse Society (BHS) due to over-population. Ironically, welfare issues, and the responsible actions taken by their owners, are partly the reason for the New Forest pony coming onto the Watchlist. “This does, however, mean that the New Forest Pony has fallen below the 3,000 threshold for registered adult breeding females for the first time. Now officially a rare breed, it is important to help ensure the genetic diversity of this reducing population is maintained.

The RBST said: “These changes clearly highlight that our work is still relevant after 40 years with a range of new challenges and breeds to help save from extinction. For more information and how you can help please visit our website”

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