TEN horses were cruelly left malnourished at a much-loved beauty spot.

As well as fears for the horses’ safety, there are concerns the animals may damage rare wildlife and plants at the Canvey Wick nature reserve.

Five horses – including stallions, foals and mares – first appeared at the wildlife haven on Friday evening.

It is believed the owners of the horses cut through the fence before letting the animals in.

Then, 24 hours later, on Saturday evening, five more horses appeared.

They are in a poor state of health and are severely under-nourished.

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said: “It’s just terrible for people to dump these horses.

“They have not only got no regard for the animals’ welfare, but also no regard for the people who walk their dogs in this area who will come across them.

“This site is also an area of scientific interest with lots of rare orchids and insects, and these horses will just be trampling all over them.”

Mr Blackwell raised concerns the horses could be in danger of falling into 20ft deep pits, which date back to when the nature reserve was an industrial site.

He added: “These people just don’t care.”

The 100-acre site at Canvey Wick is home to both the brown banded carder bee and five-banded weevil wasp, both of which were believed to be extinct in Britain until they were discovered there.

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said they had received reports about the horses and were liaising with Castle Point council and the RSPCA.

Sue Allery of the Pitsea-based Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society, said horses are often dumped by owners so they don’t have to pay for grazing.

She added: “Unfortunately we can’t just go and collect these horses.

“The police and RSPCA have to get seizure orders, which are very difficult to get.

“It’s very sad, but we see a lot of this.”