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Clarence Reserve Sheep Rescue
A Rare Breeds Society Project
The Clarence Reserve is a large stand of native forest adjacent to the Clarence River in the Marlborough district of the South Island of New Zealand. It is home to a group of feral sheep which browse the smaller trees and eat fallen leaves. Although the time at which the flock became established is not definitely known, they may have escaped from Coverham Station towards the end of the nineteenth century. This would mean that the flock has existed there for more than a hundred years.
Once the forest was formalized as a Reserve administered by the Department of Conservation there were some concerns that the sheep might be eradicated. Accordingly it was decided in the 1990s to try to capture some of the animals to ensure their preservation.
Over a period, a group of two rams and three ewes were collected. One ram was held for a while at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve by Michael Willis who had initiated the venture. The remainder were placed with Matthew Benge of Takaka to look after on a caregiving basis. However, they did not take well to the change from the dry area where they developed to the wet, mild climate of Takaka.
As far as is known, some still remain in the Clarence Reserve, and a few are kept in domestication in North Canterbury.
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