Newborn wild pony foal dies in tragic Welsh cliff fall after group tried to get selfies with it

'Time and time again there are people that think they know better'

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Tourists have been advised not to "take selfies" with the clifftop ponies of a Welsh beauty spot after a panicked newborn foal died after falling.

Visitors have been urged by the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) - which has a base at Worm's Head in Rhossili, just under 20 miles from Swansea on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales - to stay clear of the wild ponies that roam the area.

Instead, to get close-up shots without startling the animals, photographers are advised to "use the zoom" function on their cameras and smartphones.

Posting to Facebook, the NCI said: “Almost every day, whilst driving to and from our hut, we see members of the public trying to stroke or take ‘selfies’ with the horses.We do stop when we see it happening and explain that the horses are semi feral or wild.

“It was only recently we had to transport a young lady up to the car park after she had been kicked by a stallion near our hut. We did what we could first aid wise... Obviously we will always do what we can in these situations, but we wish people would keep their distance from the horses.

"Only a few weeks ago a newborn foal was lost over the cliffs because it panicked when a group of people tried to get selfies with it. Keep your distance and use the zoom facility to get close ups. Stay safe around horses.”

Earlier this year, New Forest District Council approved measures prohibiting petting and feeding the animals roaming the national park in Hampshire in an effort to protect the welfare of the ponies and other animals. Those who break the rules may be subject to fines of up to £1,000.

And the Countryside Alliance campaign group has said the Countryside Code should be updated to specifically mention amateur photographers. The first Countryside Code booklet was released in 1951, and was last updated in April 2021 - the first time in over a decade.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, the Countryside Alliance's director of external affairs told the PA news agency: “This is an incredibly sad report, which demonstrates how selfish behaviour can lead to totally avoidable tragedy.

"The Countryside Code makes it clear that people visiting the countryside should keep a safe distance from animals. This should be perfectly obvious, but time and time again there are people that think they know better.

“Putting your urge to take an up-close snap or selfie for social media before the welfare of animals such as ponies is highly dangerous. The countryside is not a theme park, it’s a full-time place of work for many and home to both humans and animals."