A NEW campaign aims to cut the number of ponies killed in accidents on two of the most dangerous roads in the New Forest .

One of the tour buses that operate in the area has been decorated with an image of animals at sunset accompanied by the slogan: “Ponies don’t dent, they die.”

The district has seen fewer accidents in recent years but a large number of collisions are continuing to occur on the B3078 and B3079.

Last year 46 animals were killed or injured in the Bramshaw and Godshill area, bucking the trend witnessed in other parts of the Forest.

All the ponies are owned by people known as commoners – villagers with the right to let their animals roam the landscape.

Graham Ferris, chairman of the Commoners’ Defence Association (CDA), said: “The animals are vital to the New Forest since their grazing keeps it the way we’ve all come to appreciate.

“The animals have the right of way and don’t understand that cars are dangerous.”

Nigel Matthews, community and visitor services manager at the National Park Authority (NPA), added: “This year has got off to a good start.

“The number of animal accidents across the open forest by the end of June was only 40, compared to 64 in the same period last year.

“However, we want to remind drivers in the north to be careful. Animals are on the road day and night.”

The new image, captured by photographer Mike Read, is emblazoned across one of the double-deckers that operate the New Forest Tour. It reflects the fact that many of the accidents occur at sunset.

Bournemouth schoolboy Oliver Smith, 14, who devised the accompanying slogan, attended the unveiling of the new-look bus.