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Cattle and rare-breed sheep begin week-long graze in royal park

It is hoped their stint in the royal green space will encourage a greater range of flowers and grasses, and help bees and butterflies.

Cattle and rare-breed sheep have begun a week-long graze in the shadow of Buckingham Palace as part of a conservation drive to boost wildlife in Green Park.

The Royal Parks charity, the Rare Breed Survival Trust, and Mudchute Park and Farm have joined forces to bring the creatures to London to graze on one of the wildflower meadows.

Following a successful pilot with sheep last year, the Dexter cattle – plus Oxford Down, Southdown, Whitefaced Woodland and Black Wensleydale sheep – arrived on August 26.

It is hoped their stint on the royal green space will encourage a greater range of flowers and grasses to grow, to the benefit of insects such as bees and butterflies.

The trial scheme is part of The Royal Parks Mission: Invertebrate project, with experts poised to record and contrast the numbers of insects, spiders and other creepy crawlies with last year.

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A cow and a herd of rare-breed sheep graze in Green Park in central London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Dr Alice Laughton, who is leading the project, said they are excited to welcome the “two bovine guests” to the visiting heard.

“As they eat larger volumes and rip up rather than nibble plants, cows open up pasture far quicker than sheep, encouraging insect-friendly species to flourish,” she said.

“They also tend to prefer different varieties to their woolly counterparts, so will make perfect grazing companions.

“Even this busiest of parks, right in the heart of central London, can be home to ideal habitats for invertebrates.

“In turn, these little creatures pollinate plants, break up debris and provide a food source for birds and small mammals – they are truly the cornerstone of biodiversity.”

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