The first ever footage of a successful pairing of two captive bred beavers in the wild has been released by Scottish Beavers, a partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Part of an ongoing project, the Scottish Beaver Trial is focused on bringing the species back to Scotland after 400 years.
Night vision cameras clearly showed Harris, a male born at the Wildwood Trust in Kent, and Alba, a female from RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, affectionately grooming each other, following their release in to Knapdale Forest less than a year ago.
Ben Harrower, RZSS conservation programme manager, said: “It’s fantastic to see Alba and Harris getting along so well and I have high hopes that they will breed and produce beaver kits in the future.
“Alba established herself on the lochan after being released in October and, after a health and genetic screening, Harris was deemed to be a potential suitor. We released him in the same location in March and waited to see if they would pair up.
“Post release monitoring footage showed both beavers doing well, but for months they were not seen together. It was only in late June, when Scottish Beavers contractors from the Heart of Argyll Wildlife Association were going through imagery from the lochan, that a video clip was found with them side by side and grooming each other, a great sign that Alba has accepted Harris as a mate.
“Beavers were absent from the wild in Scotland for over 400 years and the Scottish Beaver Trial was the first official reintroduction of a mammal to the UK. Alba and Harris are just two of up to 28 beavers we are releasing in Knapdale over three years to help reinforce the population.”
Susan Davies, Director of Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “The successful pairing of these two beavers is a fantastic early outcome for the project. As nature’s engineers, beavers can bring huge benefits to an area, from flood prevention and improved water quality, to supporting the local economy through increased tourism, so reinforcing the population in Knapdale is a hugely worthwhile effort.”
The Scottish Beavers reinforcement project is being carried out with permission from Scottish Natural Heritage and with support from Forest Enterprise Scotland, which manages Knapdale Forest. Scottish Beavers is also supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Footage of the beaver couple can be viewed here
Photo by Steve Gardner