World Wildlife Day 2020

As the United Nation’s World Wildlife Day, March 3rd is a perfect opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. Although DMAD is a marine protection organisation, our volunteers and staff come from a wide range of backgrounds, all with one thing in common: our love for wildlife and its conservation! In honour of 2020’s World Wildlife Day, Research Assistant Myrthe Bakker has written a blog post on her favourite member of the animal kingdom: Eurasian beavers!

For World Wildlife Day I decided to write a little about the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). Having worked on a project about the beavers in the past I became fascinated by their biology and behaviours! 

Eurasian beavers are a keytone species for their environment; they manage water levels with their dams which trap sediment, improve water quality, recharge groundwater tables and increase cover and foraging grounds for fish. If a beaver settles in an area, other animals are likely to settle in the same vicinity soon after. As the largest rodents in Europe, Eurasian beavers can grow to be up to 1 metre in length with a 30 centimetre tail, weigh between 25 and 30 kg and have a lifespan of 7-8 years. Social animals, the beavers gather in colonies formed of only one dominant breeding pair and including up to 12 individuals. With their sharp teeth they cut down trees and use these to build dams and lodges. 
The species was once widespread across Europe and Asia, but by the beginning of the 20th century their numbers and range declined drastically due to over-hunting for their fur and castoreum.  In the early 1900s, experts estimated that there were only 8 populations left globally – approximately 1200 individuals. In response to the drastically low numbers, however, huge conservation efforts have lead to an incredible recovery in population numbers and distribution! In 2006, there was an estimated minimum global population of 639,000 individuals. Presently, the population numbers are still increasing, and Eurasian beavers are listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN red list! 
Eurasian beaver hunting underwater (Photo: Louis-Marie Preau via bioGraphic)
Eurasian beavers are a fantastic example of what we stand to gain from clear, well-planned conservation initiatives. Species can be brought back from the brink of extinction to thrive in high numbers and generate a huge number of benefits for the ecosystems around them. 

Do you have a favourite animal? Leave us a comment to tell us a little about why you love them, and what you would like to do to help them!