Beaver lovers – night time safaris in Argyll


Beavers were hunted to extinction in Scotland 400 years ago but were reintroduced to Argyll in 2009 in a trial running until 2014.

Since their reintroduction, the beaver population has proved a highly popular tourist attraction, with more than 6,600 people taking part in beaver activities in mid-Argyll such as guided walks to talks and school visits.

The beavers were released into Knapdale Forest two and a half years ago, six miles west of Lochgilphead in a beaver reintroduction project, run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Now night-time safaris are hoping to attract at least 1,000 extra people keen to get a glimpse of the beavers in their natural habitat.

A beaver education ranger, funded by an anonymous £30,000 donation, has been employed who will be based at Knapdale Forest to lead the events, as well as guided walks and local education activities and ‘beaver safaris’, until the end of the trial in 2014.

The beaver safaris will take place after dusk when the animals are at their most active and will cost £2 for adults and £1 for children.

Those people not fortunate enough to catch sight of a beaver will still be able to spot signs of activity such as gnawed trees, branches stripped of bark and beaver canals.

Hotels and other businesses close to the trial beaver site say they have increased turnover due to beaver related visitors.

An SWT spokesman, said: “Despite it being not the easiest place to get to, we have had surprisingly high numbers of people visiting.”

The beaver project aims to eventually introduce beavers back into other parts of the country.

However, not everyone is a beaver fan – despite the widespread popularity of the beaver reintroduction project, some farmers and residents are very unhappy about the project, saying the beavers damage trees and dam up watercourses vital for migrating fish.