• Outdoors Outdoors

Selfie-taking tourists cause newborn wild pony to fall off cliff to its death: 'The countryside is not a theme park'

"The mare who lost her foal over the cliff, she's quite a sharp sort of sensitive mare … she was just going ballistic."

Selfie-taking tourists cause newborn pony foal to fall off cliff to its death

Photo Credit: iStock

Careless tourists recently caused the death of a wild pony foal by crowding it to take selfies.

The BBC reported the horrific event happened in April on the Gower peninsula in Wales.

The foal was born a couple hundred yards from a cliff's edge, but people "forced her closer and closer to the edge" by "trying to take photographs," said farmer Nicky Beynon, whose family has cared for the animals for generations.

"All of a sudden the newborn is staggering to its feet, trying to learn how to stand up, and trips over the edge," he told the BBC.

"The mare who lost her foal over the cliff, she's quite a sharp sort of sensitive mare. The foal had gone over about half an hour before I found her, and she was just going ballistic.

"She knew the foal had just vanished."

Beynon then took all the mares home for their safety.

Three ponies also died last year after being hit by cars, and drone operators have harassed others in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Beynon said people fly drones there daily but shouldn't have to come near the ponies since cameras and videos can capture images from safe distances.

The incidents caused officials to warn visitors to follow the Countryside Code, a United Kingdom regulation that advises people to respect everyone, protect the environment, enjoy the outdoors, and know the signs and symbols of the countryside — similar to Leave No Trace.

The National Coastwatch Institution stated, via The Guardian, that guests should keep their distance and use zoom functions to get close-up photos and videos. That's the best way to stay safe around the semi-feral or wild animals, as another sightseer had recently been kicked by a stallion and had trouble walking afterward.

The wild ponies, which can run 68 kilometers (42 miles) per hour, are selective grazers and help maintain native habitats. They live in grasslands, shrublands, and wooded pastures and support diverse grasses, wildflowers, insects, and pollinators.

Countryside Alliance director of external affairs Mo Metcalf-Fisher called out the tourons for their reckless behavior and said the Countryside Code should ban amateur photographers from invading an animal's space.

"Putting your urge to take an up-close snap or 'selfie' for social media before the welfare of animals is highly dangerous," he said.

"The countryside is not a theme park. It's a full-time place of work for many and home to both humans and animals."

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