How were these seven animals successfully reintroduced into the wild?
Our planet is home to some truly impressive conservation efforts that have the power to bring back animals in ways we once thought were impossible.
Species that have suffered and whose populations have declined for decades, if not centuries, are being reintroduced to their homes. natural environments with the help of an ecological genius and a little luck.
Thousands of birds, rodents and mammals are given another chance to thrive in the places they used to call home.
Here are some of the most impressive animals in the world that have been successfully reintroduced into the wild.
7) European beavers
Beavers once thrived across Europe, but fell prey to intensive hunting for their meat and fur. In the 16th century, they were considered extinct in many countries.
Now there are a number of initiatives in place to bring them back to Britain. They also serve environmental purposes and the Scottish Beaver Trial broke new ground by seeing them in the wild for the first time in 400 years.
Since then, wildlife trusts in a record number of rural Britain are re-entering them in pairs and the results appear positive enough that a growing number of regions are willing to join.
Now they are using their dam building skills to restore habitats, support other animals, and reduce the risk of flooding.
6) Przewalski’s horse
Chernobyl is possibly one of the the most unexpected places in the world to witness the flourishing of animal life.
Ukrainian authorities argue that the region may not be suitable for humans for 24,000 years, but in 1998 a group of thirty horses from Przewalski – named after a Russian from Asia – were invited to the area. .
The experiment was halted after a while, but that didn’t stop the herd from growing to 150 horses in what has become one of the largest accidental nature reserves in Europe. Another 60 Przewalski were also detected across the border in Belarus.
Environmentalists now want to replicate the success of Chernobyl using other animal species.
4 and 5) The Eurasian and Iberian lynx
Europe’s “big cats” have made a welcome return to many countries since their demise some 200 years ago.
You may never have spotted any of the near-nocturnal predators, but they are considered a key species – an essential presence that helps maintain healthy populations of other animals.
The Eurasian lynx was reintroduced to the Swiss Alps in the 1970s, while the Iberian lynx inhabited warmer climates, such as Spain and Portugal. There are also belts of resettlement areas in Slovenia, France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Austria.
The high degrees of habitat fragmentation in the Alpine region risked putting the Eurasian species back in danger. Even so, there are at least 9,000 on the continent, doing their part for the ecosystem.
3) Tasmanian devil
Contrary to what the name might lead you to believe, Tasmanian devils weren’t always strictly limited to the island that shares their name.
About 3000 years ago, you could find them in many other parts of australia before they were wiped out by disease and, somewhat mythically, the arrival of the Australian dingoes.
Last year, the Tasmanian Devil renewed his presence in a New South Wales wildlife sanctuary, quite far from the island of its origins. Those responsible for the reintroduction are hoping the marsupials could control the state’s wild cat and fox population.
Their numbers exploded in the aftermath of the NSW bushfires, with the open terrain giving them a distinct advantage over their prey.
2) white stork
Don’t be fooled by their association with fertility in popular culture – for a while, the White Stork has had a hard time maintaining its numbers across Europe. They were almost completely wiped out in the 1960s by increasing industrialization.
It was a matter of great concern to the inhabitants of the Alsace tourist region in eastern France, as the bird was their emblem. For a while, they may have been scarce apart from the gifts and art used to promote the area.
In 1976, the NaturOparc Reintroduction Center, located in the Alsace Wine Valley, opened its doors as a breeding center to revive its population. Several other organizations, including the Association for the Protection and Reintroduction of Storks in Alsace and Lorraine (APRSAL), have joined the fight.
Black and white birds have grown from just 10 active mating pairs in Alsace to over 600 today because of it.
1) black bellied hamster
It is not very often that such a small animal is made to debate before the European Courts of Justice.
In 2011, the black-bellied hamster was subjected to just that after a lack of welfare protections due to its perceived “ferocity” led to the decline in grassland rodents across Europe.
Despite protections in place to prevent the animal from being considered vermin, it has faced – and continues to face – obstacles such as climate change, agriculture and light pollution.
However, the number of initiatives put in place to help it thrive across the continent is increasing.
Last year, conservationists in Khotyn National Park in Ukraine managed to free 11 captive-bred hamsters in the region to restore the black-bellied hamster population to its former glory.
This joins notable projects in its main European habitats in the Netherlands and Belgium.