Two Eastbourne residents had a shock after finding water buffalo in their gardens on Friday morning which had escaped from a nearby field.
The animals are kept in West Rise Marsh and belong to West Rise Junior School. Headteacher Mike Fairclough said the gate had been deliberately taken off its hinges.
The farm manager was alerted that all three water buffalo had escaped at around 7.15am and police closed off the road at Langney Rise at the junction of Sevenoaks Road to stop traffic while they were herded back into their field. They had been found in two neighbouring gardens in St Anthony’s Avenue and were moved back to the field about 10 minutes later.
Mike Fairclough, headteacher at West Rise Junior School, said, “There’s no way they would leave the field unless they go through the gates, when the farm manager went through it had been taken off its hinges.
“It’s not an accident, someone has deliberately done it.”
He said the two padlocks on the gate were still intact but he would be looking at how to make it more secure following the incident.
Mr Fairclough, who described the female water buffalo as ‘docile’ said he went to visit the two men who had found the animals in their gardens, adding, “They took it all in good humour - it’s not every day you have a herd of water buffalo take residence in your front garden. I am concerned about the gate being tampered with. But I am relieved that the water buffalo were quickly returned to the field.”
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said, “Police were called just before 7am this morning following a report that water buffalo had escaped from a field near Sevenoaks Road. Officers attended the scene and located the animals, who were corralled into an area and were of no risk to the public. The owner was contacted and he herded them back to their field. Whilst this was undertaken, police closed the road on Langney at the junction of Sevenoaks Road to stop traffic.”
For several years West Rise Junior School has leased 120 acres of marshland, including two large lakes, from the local council. The school and marsh are located on the second largest Bronze Age settlement in Europe and the school leases the land, partly for the children to find out more about this era.