Donkeys give the butterflies a helping hoof on Kildare bogland

Kildare pair help volunteers and staff at the Irish Peatland Conservation Centre near Rathangan

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Donkeys give the butterflies a helping hoof on Kildare bogland

Neddy and Lexi did their bit for butterflies

Two friendly donkeys have been helping to increase the numbers of a rare butterfly on a Kildare bog.

Neddy and Lexi were put to work grazing a site at the Irish Peatland Conservation Council’s nature reserve at Lullymore West, near Rathangan.

The hungry pair munched their way through high grass in order to create an open habitat, which is preferred by the endangered Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Volunteers have also been clearning encroaching birch, willow and gorse scrub at the site.

The donkeys are owned by neighbouring local farmer, Michael Gorey, and according to the IPCC, Neddy and Lexi quickly became firm favourites with IPCC staff and volunteers.

“The donkeys grazed the site for 11 weeks. They did a fantastic job by eating the rank grasses and reducing the height of the vegetation, while also creating a lovely structured vegetation that is preferred by the butterflies. IPCC look forward to Neddy and Lexi returning to the site in spring 2018,” said Katie Geraghty, IPCC’s Conservation Officer.

The population of the endangered Marsh Fritillary butterflies are now at a record high on the bog. Almost double the larval nests – 21 – were recorded in 2016 as during the same period last year.

Neddy the donkey pictured with owner Michael Gorey and Michelle Walsh, who was on a work placement at IPCC