Chief Executive’s Blog

May 16, 2014 § Leave a comment


Thursday night I attended a celebration event for the Scottish Beaver Trial, held at Scottish Parliament. The evening was to mark the upcoming end of the official monitoring period of the five-year Trial before it heads into the reporting phase. It was lovely to be able to recognise the efforts of so many people who have been involved in the Trial over the past five years and to hear many positive things from members of Parliament. Although RZSS would like to see beavers returned to Scotland, the future of beavers is ultimately up to Scottish Government, who will receive Scottish Natural Heritage’s findings by May next year.

Celebrating-the-Scottish-Beaver-Trial-frontcoverThe Scottish Beaver Trial has had many great achievements since it began in 2009, such as being voted the UK’s best conservation project in 2013 by BBC Countryfile Magazine and engaging with more than 31,000 people during Trial walks, talks and events. Feedback regarding the Trial has also been overwhelmingly positive; a recent YouGov poll shows 84 per cent of mid-Argyll residents support wild beavers living in Knapdale, while broadcaster Ray Mears has said: “The Scottish Beaver Trial is one of the most considered and well organised species reintroductions ever. Thanks to this project, we can once again see these beautiful creatures at work.” More interesting facts about the Trial can be found in the infographic brochure Return of the native?, which can be found here.

At Highland Wildlife Park, work has now begun to transform the Dulverton Room into a new coffee house and bookshop. The café, which will be called the Oystercatcher, will serve hot drinks, cakes and snacks, and will provide visitors with a second food outlet alongside Antlers. After experiencing its busiest year ever in 2013, the Oystercatcher is just one of many projects in the pipeline to enhance customer experience and accommodate larger visitor numbers at the Park.

From the animals section at the Park, hoofstock keepers have now successfully introduced two new female Przewalski’s horses to the herd in the main drive through reserve. The pair, Shaz and Val, are integrating well and some tender moments, including nose-touching, has been spotted between the females and Hero, the resident male.

Java sparrow by Katie Paton

Java sparrow by Katie Paton

At Edinburgh Zoo, visitors to our Brilliant Birds enclosure will now be able to see a new species – the Java sparrow. Keepers this week released 20 individuals into Brilliant Birds and though they are small they should be easily spotted! The birds can be identified by their pink beaks and legs, bluish-grey body and black and white heads. As their name suggests, they are native to the Indonesian islands of Java, Bali and Bawean.

Finally, National Geographic has published an excellent article on the work being done by Arnaud Desbiez and his colleagues in Brazil as part of the Giant Armadillo Project. Prior to the commencement of the Project, virtually nothing was known about this keystone species. Two of the biggest discoveries to date for the Project have been the establishment of the giant armadillo as an ecosystem engineer – adapting the local habitat in ways that benefit other species – and the first ever photograph of a baby giant armadillo, taken last year. The feature can be read here:


Drive Nature forth by force, she’ll turn and rout

The false refinements that would keep her out.

~ Horace, Odes


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