Exmoor Ponies Offroad | Porsche Leipzig
Exmoor ponies off-road: Porsche’s off-road track in Leipzig surprises with a remarkable natural paradise. Where Porsche drivers test the off-road capabilities of their vehicles, aurochs and wild ponies, sheeps and deers roam the adjacent landscape.
On the horizon, there is an ufo-like building, the Porsche employees call it Diamant. The futuristic-building is the customer centre. In front of it: grazing horses. A pleasing image, because it suggests that industry and biodiversity can work together.
Exmoor ponies originally come from the southwest of England. The small mostly dark coated horses roam free on the vast expanses of Exmoor National Park. Devon is the home of this horse breed. Since 2002, Porsche’s herd of Exmoor ponies has been grazing in a largely natural biotope, just a few hundred metres from the factory halls of the southern German vehicle manufacturer.
Exmoor ponies and sheeps – from military training area to nature paradise
Porsche operates the pioneering grazing concept on the 132-hectare off-road site. The area has been a military training ground since the German Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. Later it was used for military purposes by the Nationalen Volksarmee of the GDR. The area was renaturalised and is now used to experience Porsche models under off-road conditions. At the same time, aurochs, Exmoor ponies and Millions of bees have been settled on the land.
The natural paradise also provides a habitat for numerous wild animals. These include bird species such as the pheasant, the black kite, numerous amphibians, field hares, deer and bats. It is the hunting ground of the hunter Bertram Schultze. “Nature offers you time for yourself,” says Schultze. A pheasant scolds somewhere behind a bush and flutters away a moment later. “I could watch nature non-stop. How the foxes frolic with the aurochs calves, how the bulls tease the ponies: These are unique moments.”
In order to keep the number of horses at Porsche Leipzig constant, the ponies are regularly handed over to selected charitable organisations, for example in 2017 to the Naturforschende Gesellschaft Altenburg e.V. (Nature Research Society of Altenburg) – the organisation has set itself the task of promoting grazing and nature conservation projects in the surrounding area. In a nature reserve, the animals should now maintain the pasture landscapes in Thuringia.
Steep climbs, slippery slopes and knee-deep watercourses: the off-road terrain offers 15 modules on a six-kilometre course, with which the off-road capabilities of the Macan or Cayenne can be tested to the limits.
Fast cars, ponies, wetland biotopes – automotive industry integrates biodiversity
With specially created wetland biotopes and pastures, Porsche’s off-road area provides a natural habitat for animal and plant species, including a wide variety of butterflies. Two species have been found here, the rough-grass butterfly and the small cube butterfly, whose last documented occurrences in the city of Leipzig date back more than ten years.
Even Finnish land sheep have already contributed temporarily to grazing the areas. “I get a high-yield grazing area and Porsche Leipzig can do without mechanical management of the green space. At the same time, the grazing creates habitats for bird species and a varied flora,” explains shepherd Lars Kühne. His sheep graze spatially separated from the aurochs and Exmoor ponies living in the off-road area. As grazing landscape managers, the grazing animals create a mosaic of short- and long-grass areas, which contributes to the preservation of species-rich habitats.
The off-road area is also home to three million honey bees, which find plenty of food in the species-rich biotope and pollinate the plants. Porsche Leipzig has been producing its own honey in cooperation with a regional beekeeper.
Getting young people excited about biodiversity
In order to get future generations excited about flora and fauna, the Porsche Safari has been running since 2018 – a discovery tour for children and young people led by environmental educators from the Auwaldstation Leipzig.
More information in German on the grazing concept and the Porsche Safari: www.porsche-leipzig.com/safari
Images: (c) Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG