05 October 2008

Chillingham Cattle

One of my readers, Suzanne, commented on the animal skin hanging on the wall in the background of the photograph I posted on the 23rd September (Archways). There is an interesting story behind this and the animal was almost definitely not killed by a human.

The photograph was taken at Chillingham Park, Northumberland, which is home to the famous Chillingham Cattle. Despite them being famous, it is likely that most of my readers have never heard of them.

The Chillingham cattle are said to be the only survivors of the wild herds which once roamed freely through the forests of Great Britain. Today they live in an enclosed 365 acre parkland at Chillingham in Northumberland which has been their home since the thirteenth century. In the summer of 2008 the herd numbered 80 animals.

Although enclosed within the park, the cattle are completely wild in that they have have had almost no human interference for hundreds of years. The cattle are not managed and indeed will not tolerate human touch. Any members of the herd who have been touched by a human have been dead within minutes of returning to the herd - the cattle will not tolerate human scent on any other members. An exception to this was when a group of people managed to remove a few of the herd to a farm outside the park. Each animal then had the scent on him and left each other alone.

The bulls compete with each other to become 'king bull'. They do this by digging shallow pits in the ground, defecating in them, rolling around in their own excrement and then facing each other to fight. They will never intentionally fight to the death.

The public can visit the park to see the cattle (at a distance - they are dangerous!) under the supervision of a warden.

For more information, please visit the website at www.chillinghamwildcattle.com. It's a small website, but it shows some pictures of the cattle and their park.

1 comment:

Karin said...

Wow, how interesting! I've never heard of these animals before.

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