Norfolk wildlife project's beavers joined by potential mates

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BeaverImage source, Devon Wildlife Trust
Image caption,
Female beavers have been introduced to male beavers in Norfolk. Pictured here is a female beaver in Devon

Two beavers whose hopes of breeding were delayed by lockdown have finally been joined by potential mates at a rewilding project.

Wild Ken Hill, in Norfolk, is turning 1,000 acres of farmland and forestry back over to nature, with the beavers helping to recreate wooded wetlands.

Two females were introduced to a large enclosure in March and had been due to welcome two brothers in the Spring.

Project manager Dominic Buscall now expects the beavers to create pairs.

"It's very unnatural for beavers to stay on their own for too long in the wild - I doubt they will turn their noses up at one another," he said.

"They've been alone for so long".

'Immense benefits'

The female beavers have already begun to transform the area at Snettisham, on the coast, into a wetter and more open habitat which will boost nature over time, the team at Wild Ken Hill said.

"Beavers are what we call ecosystem engineers, so they actually create habitats that other species like to use - aquatic invertebrates, birds, bats, even fish," said Mr Buscall.

"We had an otter in here recently as the water level has come up."

The animals are not permitted in the wild in England, but it was the project's aim to record the beaver's impact within their secure enclosure.

"This animal has immense benefits, and we are going to measure and track those, share our findings and hopefully persuade this government to let this animal out in England more broadly."

The family farm continues to grow crops on another 2,000 acres using "regenerative" agricultural techniques which cut out insecticides and provide food and habit for wildlife.

Wild cattle, pigs and ponies are to be brought in to graze the 1,000 acres and boost biodiversity, added Mr Buscall.

"Since we started this rewilding project a couple of years ago it's felt a bit empty.

"These animals will run this place for us, they will be our natural allies and I can't wait to see them out."