The first ever footage of a pair of captive bred beavers getting friendly in the wild has been released.
Video footage has revealed the pair affectionately grooming each other in Knapdale Forest, Argyll.
They are part of the Scottish Beaver Trial, a project to the species back to Scotland 400 years after it was wiped out here.
Night vision cameras show Harris, a male born at the Wildwood Trust in Kent, and Alba, a female from RZSS (Royal Zoological Society of Scotland) 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 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 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.”
He added: “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.”