Baby beaver born at Forty Hall

After a rocky start, Enfield Council’s beaver reintroduction project looks to be a success with the first offspring arriving this summer

The baby beaver at Forty Hall (credit Colin Pressland)
The baby beaver at Forty Hall (credit Colin Pressland)

A baby beaver has been born at Forty Hall for the first time, 18 months after the species was reintroduced to London.

The kit has been filmed helping its parents build dams and swimming in the pools created within an enclosed area of Forty Hall Farm. It’s thought it was born early in July and is now three months old.

Enfield’s beaver reintroduction project is a first for London and has enabled the species to be reintroduced to this part of the country for the first time in 400 years, when they were hunted to extinction in the UK. As well as bringing beavers back, the project is designed to boost flood alleviation and bring wider ecosystem benefits.

Enfield Council and Capel Manor College have led on the project, with help from Beaver Trust, and the first pair were released in March 2022. Sadly, the male later died, as did a replacement male, with the female subsequently blamed for being overly aggressive. It was then decided to introduce an established pair last winter.

The persistence appears to have now paid off, with the first kit being born. It is thought to be the first baby beaver born in what is now Greater London for hundreds of years. They have been living in other more isolated parts of the UK for around a decade.

Rick Jewell, the council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “This truly is wonderful news. The adult couple are quite young so we weren’t sure that they would breed successfully in such a short space of time. You can already see the positive impact the beavers are having through their natural landscaping of the area.

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“The beavers’ hard work creating a natural wetland ecosystem will contribute to excellent flood defences, protecting the local area and hundreds of homes from flooding downstream to the south east of the borough, while encouraging local biodiversity to thrive. They really are remarkable animals.

“This project contributes to our rewilding activities and is having an extremely positive impact on our borough, supporting our climate action objectives and blue and green strategy.”

With guidance from Beaver Trust, Capel Manor College intend to capture the new beaver to give it a thorough on-site health check, with an experienced exotic animal vet and to confirm its sex which at this stage remains undetermined.

Meg Wilson, Capel Manor College’s animal collections manager, said: “We are thrilled for this new arrival. We have seen the developments the beavers are making and the improvements they have made to the wetland area. We are now focusing our efforts on collecting data, which we hope will further evidence the positive effects the beavers are having on the environment.

“As Capel Manor College’s conservation efforts grow, this continues to enable us to give our students first-hand experience of conservation and research.”

Capel Manor College’s supervisory team had noticed earlier this year that the female beaver appeared to be pregnant. The beaver couple has been extremely active over the past few months, expanding their sizeable domed lodge and felling several trees including a large willow, which will re-grow by shooting out new stems. Dams are also visible across the site, a sign that the beavers are getting on well and truly making Enfield their home.

Since Enfield has led the way in London, Ealing Council has also announced it intends to release beavers in the Horsenden Hill area of West London.

Enfield Council is now looking at the reintroduction of other species and would like to support kingfisher nesting and barbel breeding.

Watch Enfield’s beaver kit on YouTube:

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