A RARE aquatic mammal has made its first appearance at the RSPB Newport Wetlands centre following its re-introduction at another Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT) reserve six miles away.

Water voles were once common in the area but predation from the non-native American mink and land management issues pushed the animal close to extinction.

Over the past few years, GWT have endeavoured to bring the water vole back to Gwent, firstly at the Magor Marsh Nature Reserve.

But earlier this autumn, an ecologist made the first recorded sighting at Newport, suggesting that the numbers of water voles are slowly recovering.

GWT’s project officer, Charlene Davies said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear that conservation efforts have resulted in the first confirmed sighting at Newport Wetlands and the first water vole to be recorded in an area outside our reserve in many years.

“GWT re-introduced the water vole into Magor Marsh during 2012-13 and this charismatic mammal, made famous by Ratty in Wind in the Willows, is now a common sight at Magor Marsh.”

The sighting was confirmed by Natural Resources Wales and the GWT staff and volunteers are encouraged that the water vole is returning to riverbanks across Wales and the UK.

For further information on GWT, go to gwentwildlife.org.