Coombeshead is a small but exciting and diverse rewilding project close to Dartmoor National Park on the Devon and Cornwall border. Over 150 acres of previously intensively managed farmland, is now being given back to nature to recover and set its own course.
Low numbers of large herbivores including Exmoor ponies, iron age pigs, heck cattle, water buffalo and mouflon sheep have been introduced as proxies for the extinct ecosystem engineers like the Aurochs, Tarpan, wild boar and saiga antelope, once widespread in our ecosystems. These large mammals drive diverse habitat creation through their browsing, rooting, rubbing, grazing, and trampling which alongside the natural vegetation recovery creates a dynamic and ever-changing habitat mosaic. This habitat complexity benefits a whole range of wildlife which is already returning to the site.
The valley bottom is also home to a population of wild beavers which have created the ideal wetland habitat for reintroduced populations of water voles and pool frogs and otters, dormice, owls, bats, red deer and polecats are also returning. Coombeshead is also home to one of the UK’s largest native species reintroduction breeding centres with wildcats, beavers, water voles, harvest mice and white and black storks among some of the species being bred for pioneering reintroduction projects around the UK.
Coombeshead offers wildlife enthusiasts a fascinating, inspiring, and unique day out or overnight stay with insightful guided tours through its rewilding landscapes, evening beaver and glow worm watching, education and outstanding wildlife photography opportunities. Most recently three Eurasian lynx have been re-homed at the centre.