Two beaver sisters rescued from Scotland have reached their new home in Cornwall.
The beavers were only a few months old when they were separated from their family after human intervention.
No family members were found to reunite them with so they were taken into human care to ensure their survival.
They were rescued by Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer before going to Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, West Lothian, where they underwent health screenings.
The beavers have now arrived at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, where they were released into a large woodland area.
Jenny Bryce, wildlife ecology manager at NatureScot, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to help with this project by licensing the relocation of beavers from Scotland to Cornwall.
“Beavers can have hugely positive impacts on nature and people, creating habitats such as ponds and wetlands where other species thrive, as well as moderating water flows and improving water quality.
“We wish the Cornish Seal Sanctuary every success and look forward to supporting similar projects elsewhere to realise the many benefits that beavers can provide.”
Beavers became extinct on mainland Britain in the 16th century due to hunting, but are now present at a handful of sites across the country.
They were mainly targeted for their fur and castoreum, a musky secretion believed to have medicinal properties.
The animals are known as a “keystone species” as their natural behaviour has a large impact on landscape and wildlife.
By damming waterways, beavers pool water, slowing the flow in rivers and streams.
This water floods an area, creating new wetland and attracting wildlife.
We are incredibly excited to finally announce our “Secret Creek” project which will be taking place in the large woodland area of the Sanctuary, and to introduce you to our two newest members of the family, rescued baby beaver sisters! pic.twitter.com/6hQmatjbUk
— CornishSealSanctuary (@Seal_Sanctuary) March 15, 2021
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary teamed up with various conservation groups across the country to decide how to use the large woodland area on its site.
A spokeswoman said it was quickly decided that beavers would make an “excellent addition” to the site and offer the opportunity for researchers to study their impact on the environment.
“The sanctuary’s old otter enclosure has been repurposed and updated to create a new Beaver Nursery for the pair, where they will spend their first few months settling in, with the team keeping a close eye on their behaviour and eating habits,” she said.
“Once they have reached a good healthy weight and have the capability of building their own shelters and dams, they will be moved to their brand new home in the large 5km squared wooded area behind the Beaver Nursery to live a natural beaver life.”
The charity is planning research projects to understand more about beaver behaviour in the wild, which will mainly focus on monitoring water quality and the impact of damming, biodiversity counts, landscape changes and public perceptions.
Natural England has provided all necessary licensing to keep beavers at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary.
Dr Campbell-Palmer said: “It is pretty special when we see beavers go off into their new homes and it just makes it all worthwhile.”
The beaver ecologist and her colleague Robert Needham conducted a feasibility study on the area at the sanctuary to assess the suitability of the habitat for the beavers.