Little owl at the edge of the forest


Winners and losers in the animal kingdom

A third of all animal and plant species in Switzerland are endangered. Three examples of animals whose habitats are disappearing, according to the WWF. But also three unexpected success stories.

Michael West, Nina Huber
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These species are highly endangered...

1. Smooth snake

This snake with speckled scales is non-venomous and completely harmless to humans. The animal likes gravel along riverbanks, cairns and dry stone walls. Such habitats are becoming increasingly rare in our country.

2. Hoverfly

This tiny insect offers a helping hand: its larvae eat aphids and other plant pests. The adult insects play an important role as plant pollinators. More flower meadows and natural gardens in Switzerland would help the hoverfly.

3. Zingel asper

This fish is about 20 centimetres long and has a yellowish colour and brown stripes. It is only found in the canton of Jura. Weirs restrict its habitat and contribute to its becoming extinct.

Head of a smooth snake looks out from under a plant

... and these species are returning

1. Tree frog

This small yet vocal green animal almost disappeared from Switzerland 15 years ago. Thanks to reintroductions, you can hear its croaking more frequently again today.

2. Red deer

The king of the forest was extinct in Switzerland by the mid-19th century. Later, the red deer migrated back from the Austrian region of Vorarlberg and was able to survive due to stricter hunting laws. Today, there are around 40,000 of these animals in our country.

3. Little owl

This nocturnal bird disappeared from Switzerland in the 1950s. At that time, many old orchards, where the little owl made its home, were turned into construction sites. It is now found again in Ticino and the canton of Geneva, for example, but is still considered highly endangered.

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