Gower Cliffs Ponies Threatened by Careless Tourist Behaviors


The cliffs of Gower, Swansea, have been the long-standing grazing grounds for generation of ponies under the mindful eyes of the local farming family, helmed by Nicky Beynon. Recent yet recurrent acts of harassment by amorous tourists have shaken this peaceful co-existence, threatening the continuation of this tranquil legacy.

Tragic incidents, including a newborn foal tumbling off a cliff due to panic incited by selfie-taking bystanders, have led to an urgent plea by Mr Beynon to visitors to respect the serenity and safety of these elegant creatures. These unfortunate episodes compounded by fatal accidents involving vehicles and incessant intimidation by tourists have prompt Mr. Beynon to contemplate their future on these cliffs.

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Visitors have been urged by the National Trust conservation charity to adhere to the countryside code, a guideline aimed at facilitating public enjoyment of outdoor spaces while preserving the natural environment and its inhabitants. The 60-year-old seasoned farmer, who takes care of his ponies on his farms in Llangennith and Rhossili, laments the plight of his gypsy cob ponies, who find themselves consistently overwhelmed by intrusive tourists who persistently pursue them for intimate selfies.

The tragic incident from April saw a newborn foal, barely on its feet, involuntarily pushed towards the precipice. With her foal missing, the distraught mare was found by Mr Beynon in a visibly distressed state. After the unfortunate incident, he saw it fit to bring all his mares home to ensure their safe foaling.

In 2022, he had to withdraw his ponies from the headland after a tourist operated a drone mere feet above a pony’s head, causing severe distress to the animal. Mr Beynon expresses frustration over the incessant misuse of drones, capable of filming from safe distances, and zero respect for personal space of the ponies.

Already having ceased grazing sheep owing to a series of vicious dog attacks, Mr Beynon urges visitors to wisely use the zoom in their cameras rather than invading the animal’s personal space.

Louise Church, a frequent visitor to the area, has frequently intervened to shield the ponies from frightening encounters with overzealous tourists. Once, she even stopped a man from chasing a pony for a photograph, reminding that these are not pets, but rather wild animals.

Existing signage asking visitors to keep their dogs on leads and close gates often get disregarded. National Coastwatch Institution, based on the cliff, issues daily warnings advising people to keep a respectful distance from the ponies. These animals form an enriching part of special wildlife and livestock that roam freely across the common land and meadows of Gower, adding to the area’s distinctive charm.

The Countryside Code offers a comprehensive set of guidelines allowing the public to enjoy outdoor spaces responsibly while ensuring that local wildlife and landmarks are protected, specifically advising against feeding livestock or wild animals and stressing on the need to respect their space, especially when they are with their young. Following these guidelines would ensure that this delicate eco-system continues to thrive, enriching the experiences of not just the locals but every visitor fortunate enough to experience it.