The riverbank following alongside the old waterway to the SSSI North-Pit; a former Victorian limestone quarry, has now been fenced off the main river for two of our Water Buffalo; Donald and Dumbo, in an experiment to tackle the Floating Pennywort.
Floating Penny-wort is an invasive weed from south America which was accidentally introduced to the UK as a plant in domestic ponds. Over the last decade is has become a major problem along the river cam, particularly the upper river and its tributary's as well as spreading to close by water bodies. In high summer when the growth rate is highest it can form floating mats which completely block the navigation channel, costing the Environment Agency many thousands of pounds a year to remove mechanically. However within the Main Project area of the Nature reserve it is unseen, we believe this is due to grazing by our breeding Water Buffalo herd. On the washes the Highland Cattle do graze it as far as they can wade into the ditches but as the water buffalo will happily swim and eat we believe they have eradicated it within the Buffalo grazed parts of the reserve.
Donald and Dumbo (our castrated, tame males) have already begin to graze the floating Penny-wort in this latest experiment at Kingfishers Bridge and we have high hopes that they will clear the ditch by the end of the summer. The outcomes of this experiment may have valuable implications for managing the Penny-wort on the main river.
Reserves Manager at the Kingfishers Bridge wetland creation project in Cambridgeshire.