Scotland welcomes back an old furry friend as the first beavers to live in Scotland for over 400 years are released into the wild.
Three families have just been released at carefully selected sites in Knapdale Forest in mid-Argyll, marking the first formal reintroduction of a native mammal species into the wild in the UK.
The beavers, originally from Norway, have been chosen because they are considered to be the closest type to those once found in the UK and have all completed a six-month statutory quarantine period.
Minister for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham, travelled to the trial site on Friday morning to show her support for the landmark project, and assisted with the release of one of the family groups.
She said: "Welcoming beavers back to Scotland marks a historic day for conservation, and it is particularly apt they are returning in this, the year of Homecoming.
"These charismatic creatures are not only likely to create interest in Scotland from further afield but crucially can play a key role in providing good habitat for a wide range of wetland species.
"And while a great deal of research has already gone into the reintroduction this work is far from over. Observations and data collection over the next five years will play a crucial role in assessing the long term future for beavers in the Scottish landscape."
The release is for a time-limited trial period and comes after years of lobbying by ecologists and conservation experts who believe that the beaver has been a missing part of our wetland eco-systems since being hunted to extinction in the 16th century.
The trial is mostly funded through private donations and grants, including up to £1million from Biffaward and support from People's Postcode Lottery and People's Trust for Endangered Species.