The beavers are back!
The Eurasian beaver, Europe’s largest-bodied rodent once populated all our continent's riverside gallery forest. Due to the excessive hunting for its fur and meat as well as its habitat loss, beavers have gone extinct from the largest part of Europe. In Hungary, the last beavers were observed during the mid-nineteenth century, after that the species has disappeared for over 100 years from the country’s fauna. The native beaver is now a protected species with a conservation value of 50,000 HUF, the rodent‘s hunting and habitat destruction are both prohibited.
We started our beaver-reintroduction program in 1996 at Gemenc where one of Europe’s largest gallery forest is located, belonging to the Danube-Drava National Park. Our aim was to make Europe’s largest-bodied rodent become a part of the country’s rich wildlife once again. Between 1996 and 1998, we released 32 beavers along the lower Hungarian stretches of Danube. Then new areas have followed. In 2000 and 2002, 24 beavers from Germany were located in Hanság region, once famous for its extensive marshes. New beaver families have found home at river Tisza between 2001 and 2006. In 2007, we have settled beavers along the Hungarian stretches of Drava, followed by Tiszatarján in 2008, which was the last stage of our reintroduction program. WWF resettled all together 234 specimens to Hungary arriving from Bavaria. Meanwhile, due to spontaneous migration several beaver families appeared in Szigetköz, and along river Raba or in Zala county, originated outside of our borders.
The reintroduction was preceded by a preliminary habitat survey every time. Beavers often migrate from their locations of reintroduction, and that is how they found the riverbank suitable for settling in. As a result of both population growth and migration, estimates suggested, that at the end of our beaver monitoring progam in 2011, more than 900 beavers were living in Hungary, their number constantly growing. Most families occurred in Szigetköz and Hanság. Since the end of the monitoring program of the reintroduced and migrated animals, we have constantly participated in discussions about the management of beaver presence. These discussions provided a great platform for sharing the experience of countries with bigger beaver populations than Hungary.
During the beaver-reintroduction program, it was necessary to shape people’s younger generation’s perception as well, therefore we organised annual informative lectures, where students could get to know more about the beavers‘lifestyle and the reintroduction program.
WWF Hungary’s beaver-reintroduction program was exclusively sponsored by OBI.
- Tripp on the Rupp-hill