I recently visited the donkeys in the New Forest and I thought I would update you on my most recent trip. We have a fantastic volunteer called Jill; having lived in the area for decades, Jill helps me navigate around the north and the south of the forest and has an amazing ability to seek out most of the donkeys, wherever they might be hiding from us.
In all we found 85 donkeys and one mule. I secretly had hoped to find a donkey foal. Being May I knew there was a reasonable chance that we might find one, but of course there was no guarantee. This little chap was probably only a few days old and seemed very relaxed indeed.
It was great to see that quite a few of the donkeys we saw were wearing the reflective collars we are able to give out to owners. There had been road traffic accidents last winter and donkeys, sadly have been involved. Many of the accidents occur at dusk and when the light is poor, so hopefully the collars will give the donkeys an extra chance of being seen.
The general condition of the donkeys was good. They are very well adapted to this environment, having been born and raised in the Forest by mothers who themselves have been reared for generations to wander and browse the hedges as well as graze the grass as it is now starting to come through.
Donkeys have evolved to be travellers, constantly on the lookout for new and interesting things to eat. Always ready to move on in search of coarse herbage as well as grass.
As adorable as they are, tourists often feed these donkeys, sometimes with unsuitable food. Although these donkeys can be friendly and often approach people, they are feral animals and feeding them sadly also encourages them to approach traffic. So please, if you do see the donkeys do not feed them, admire them for sure, it’s hard not to!