Essex capybara: World’s biggest rodent stops play at North Weald golf course – a long way from native South America

Golfers initially thought the exotic animal was a wild boar

There isn’t much that links the plains of South America with a golf course in Essex, particularly when it comes to the local wildlife.

So when a member of the world’s largest rodent species, a capybara, appeared on the eighth tee at North Weald Golf Club near Harlow, players could possibly be forgiven for stopping to investigate further.

Bemused golfers described the animal as “like a cross between a beaver and a bear”, and phoned for back-up from the clubhouse. When they arrived, members of staff were able to capture the extraordinary beast – on camera.

According to the club, the players who first spotted the intruder on 16 March thought it might have been a wild boar, but “as luck would have it, another member with a bit more experience in unique animals was next up on the tee”.

Golfer Stefan Freeman identified it as an “Argentinian capybara”, adding that it was “strange to find one in the wild”, particularly in the UK.

Capybaras live in the wild across South America and can grow to lengths of more than 4ft 4ins (134cm), many times larger than their closest relatives – guinea pigs.

Since the first sighting in Essex, the same animal has been spotted on the course a number of times and a local farm has confirmed that it is “missing a capybara”.

Nearby Ashlyn’s Farm Shop runs a “Farm walk” where visitors can see exotic animals, including buffalo, emus, wallabies and rhea.

The exotic rodent has been described as gentle but quite shy, with a tendency to run away from people when approached (North Weald Golf Club) The exotic rodent has been described as gentle but quite shy, with a tendency to run away from people when approached (North Weald Golf Club) Manager Rob Dixon said efforts to recapture their solitary male capybara had failed. He told the Telegraph: “We keep on trying to catch it, but as soon as we try and catch it, it’s moved on or it jumps in the river and shoots off. Next time we’ve got to get a vet out and try and tranquillise it.

“They run away from humans – they’re quite shy,” he said. “They’re not like a rat, they’re almost like a big hamster.”

He isn’t the only exotic fugitive on the run in the English countryside. Last month, a giant rhea was sighted around villages in east Hertfordshire – though standing over six feet tall and with powerful claws that could disembowel a human, it presents a much scarier prospect than the cuddly capybara.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
gaming
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Business Analyst - MGA - London Market - Insurance Broker

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Argyll Scott International: A Business A...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Network / Systems Administrator (LAN, WAN, Windows)

£38000 - £42000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Netw...

Investigo: Group Financial Controller

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible