30/07/2018 in Conservation
Above: Watch beaver couple, Harris and Alba, grooming
Two beavers released in Knapdale Forest as part of ongoing work bringing the species back to Scotland after 400 years are getting on swimmingly, with video footage revealing the pair affectionately grooming each other.
It is the first ever footage of a successful pairing of two captive bred beavers in the wild following the Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale.
Night vision cameras show Harris, a male born at the Wildwood Trust in Kent, and Alba, a female from RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, looking loved up after a few months of living on the same small lochan in Argyll.
Scottish Beavers, a partnership set up between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust to continue the work of the Scottish Beaver Trial, is focused on reinforcing the beaver population in Knapdale with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Ben Harrower, RZSS conservation manager and Scottish Beaver project manager, tells us more:
“Earlier in the year the Scottish Beavers partnership brought you the news about Alba and the artificial lodge which she had built on. Once Alba had established on the small lochan in Knapdale, the search was underway for a suitable partner. The Wildwood Trust in Kent volunteered one of their 4 year old captive bred beavers as a potential suitor. After the health and genetic screening to ensure this male was suitable, he was named ‘Harris’ and given the project code name of SBB05. Harris was released onto the same lochan on 19 March 2018.
Above: Harris being released. Photo: K. Ruta
Above: Release loch on the 19th March. Photo: A. Ball
“After a release, we conduct a follow up observation as part of the post release monitoring procedure. A thermal imaging scope is used to find the beavers and confirm presence or absence from a given area.
“That evening, both beavers were spotted on the lochan and the clip below shows a tail slap from Harris which was a signal for me to leave him in peace. It was great that he was out exploring the lochan that evening but time would tell if he was to make it his permanent home.
Above: Watch thermal imaging of beaver 'Harris' performing a tail slap
“The six-week post release monitoring that followed produced hundreds of video clips of both Alba and Harris but never showed footage of the pair together. Both beavers were clearly doing well adapting to their new life in the wild but for this translocation to be a success, the beavers released need to form pairs and hopefully, produce offspring.
“It was only in late June 2018 when Scottish Beaver contractors in Knapdale were going through imagery from the lochan when this video clip showed the pair affectionately grooming one another – a great sign that Alba has accepted the new beaver on the block!
“So, there we have it, Alba has a new partner and we are hopeful they will produce kits in the years ahead. Watch this space for updates on further beaver news from Knapdale. “
Scottish Beavers project manager