First beaver born on Exmoor for 400 years makes his home on Somerset estate

Written by on May 13, 2022

Remember Rashford, the first baby beaver – or kit – to be born on Exmoor for 400 years? Well, he’s just turned one.

And Rashford makes a striking sight in this static camera footage newly released by the National Trust of him helping dad build a dam. Dad Yogi and mum Grylls and Yogi were paired in 2020 after the conservation charity received its first license to release Eurasian beavers into a specially constructed 2.7 hectare enclosure at Holnicote.

After successfully mating, Rashford was born last spring. Following the announcement of the birth, thousands of social media users voted to name the kit Rashford inspired by the successful campaign by the England team in UEFA’s European Football Championships last summer. Since then, the young kit has been active helping mum and dad make a wetland home out of unmanaged woodland.

READ MORE: Baby beaver born on Exmoor for first time in 400 years

He’s a bit of a home boy is Rashford. Whenever he’s sighted he’s usually around Yogi and Grylls. Together, they’re busy being a part of what’s planned for Holnicote.

The beavers are one important part of the Trust’s habitat restoration work. Other work includes the first application in the UK of the innovative ‘Stage 0’ approach to river restoration, where a tributary of the River Aller has now been allowed to find its own course, creating a wetland habitat which has again attracted wildlife including peregrine falcons, grasshoppers, dragonflies, bees and wagtails.



Rashford moving more mud
Rashford moving more mud

“Due to historic drainage, water is the missing component in many of this country’s landscapes. The aim of the ‘Stage 0’ work is to give water space so it is part of the wider habitat, delivering benefits for people and nature,” said Ben Eardley, Project Manager for the National Trust at Holnicote.

Ben outlines the multiple dam complexes created by Rashford, Grylls and Yogi over the last two years as having helped slow the flow of water through the catchment, creating ponds and new channels to hold more water in the landscape. “The resulting water habitat is creating opportunities for a wide range of wildlife to flourish including fish, amphibians, reptiles such as grass snakes, bats, insects and birds like sparrow hawk, grey wagtail, moorhens and kingfisher. Otters are regular visitors to the site as the wetland offers ideal habitat for them to hunt.

“As well as holding water back the beavers are also helping us manage the woodland naturally by stripping bark from non-native conifers to create deadwood habitats and encourage natural woodland succession. This process opens up the canopy; promoting regrowth and creating better quality habitat for a wide variety of species,” said Ben.



Rashford learning his trade
Rashford learning his trade

Analysis of the site has indicated that the area was wetter before historic drainage changed the landscape. By giving water space, beavers can reinstate this lost habitat and play a role in reducing the impact of floods and droughts, both of which are expected to become more frequent with climate change.

“It’s been such a pleasure seeing Rashford’s continued development over this last year. Learning so many skills from Grylls and Yogi will serve the kit well when it reaches maturity in a year’s time and sets off to find its own territory.,” says Ben.

“We are hopeful that Rashford will be the first of many kits to be born at Holnicote. Early signs indicate that more kits may be on their way later this spring.”

“Due to historic drainage, water is the missing component in many of this country’s landscapes, and the aim of the ‘Stage 0’ work is to give water space so it is part of the wider habitat, delivering benefits for people and nature,” he said.

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