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  • Writer's pictureInga

Wildlife of Europe Series - Germany

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Germany is known for its beautiful landscapes, historic architecture, and rich cultural heritage, but it is also home to a diverse array of wildlife. It is also a country that is rich in biodiversity, with a range of habitats that are home to a variety of plant and animal species. Its forests, mountains, rivers, and wetlands provide a diverse range of ecosystems, which in turn support a wide range of wildlife.


Credit: Wikimedia (free to share)

Mammals


One of the most iconic animals found in Germany is the European bison, or wisent. These majestic animals once roamed across much of Europe but were driven to the brink of extinction due to hunting and habitat loss. Today, thanks to conservation efforts, there are around 1,800 European bison in Germany, primarily in the forests of the eastern part of the country.


Another large mammal found in Germany is the brown bear. Though once common in Germany, they were hunted to extinction in the 19th century. In recent years, there have been occasional sightings of brown bears in the Bavarian Alps, likely individuals that have migrated from neighbouring countries. The possibility of the brown bear making a permanent comeback to Germany is a promising development for wildlife enthusiasts.


Other large mammals that can be found in Germany include several species of deer, such as the red deer, roe deer, and fallow deer. These graceful animals are a common sight in German forests and are often hunted as part of traditional hunting practices. Wild boars are another animal that can be found in German forests. Though considered a pest by some due to their tendency to damage crops, wild boars are an important part of the ecosystem and play a valuable role in controlling plant growth and spreading seeds.


Carnivorous mammals found in Germany include the grey wolf, which was driven to extinction in Germany in the early 20th century but has recently made a comeback, with several packs now living in the eastern part of the country. Another carnivorous mammal that can be found in Germany is the lynx, which was also once extinct in Germany but has since been reintroduced in certain areas.


Lynx - Langenberg in the Teutoburg Forest, Germany - Wikimedia Commons (free to share)











Grey Wolf - Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany - Wikimedia Commons (free to share)













Smaller mammals found in Germany include the European hare, which is a common sight in fields and meadows, and the red fox, which can be found in both rural and urban areas. Hedgehogs, squirrels, and bats are also found in Germany, and are beloved by locals for their charm and personality.



Birds


Germany is home to a diverse array of bird species, from the majestic white-tailed eagle to the colourful kingfisher. Germany's forests are a prime habitat for woodpeckers, while its wetlands provide nesting grounds for herons, egrets, and storks. In addition, migratory birds such as cranes and swans pass through Germany on their annual journeys.

One bird species that is of particular interest to bird enthusiasts in Germany is the black stork. This rare and elusive bird can be found in the wetlands of eastern Germany, and is a favourite of birdwatchers. Other interesting bird species found in Germany include the common cuckoo, which is known for its distinctive call, and the hoopoe, which has a unique and striking appearance.


White-tailed Eagle - Flickr

Reptiles and Amphibians


Germany's rivers and lakes are home to a variety of fish species, including salmon, trout, and pike. The Danube River, which flows through southern Germany, is especially rich in fish species, with over 60 different types of fish living in its waters. In addition to fish, Germany's waterways are home to a range of amphibians and reptiles, including the common toad and the European pond turtle.


One of the most interesting reptiles found in Germany is the European adder. Known as the “Kreuzotter” in Germany, this snake is venomous but is rarely encountered and is known for its distinctive zigzag pattern. The grass snake is another common snake species found in Germany, and is harmless to humans.


European adder - Flickr


Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica) on goldenrod (solidago)

Insects


Insects may not be as glamorous as mammals or birds, but they play an important role in the ecosystem. Germany is home to a range of insect species, including beetles, butterflies, and bees. Butterflies such as the common blue and orange tip can be found in German meadows and gardens, while bees are essential for pollinating crops.





Unfortunately, like many other countries, Germany has faced significant challenges when it comes to wildlife conservation. Habitat loss, pollution, and climate change are all major threats to Germany's animal populations. However, there are many individuals and organisations working to protect and preserve Germany's wildlife. Conservation efforts include habitat restoration, reintroduction programs for endangered species, and public education initiatives.

One such initiative is the German Wildlife Foundation (Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung), which works to protect and promote the welfare of wild animals in Germany. The foundation's efforts include habitat conservation, research, and public education. They have also developed projects that focus on specific species, such as the European bison and the grey wolf, to promote their recovery in Germany.


The European Union (EU) has been a leading force in wildlife and ecological protection for many years. Through its various policies, directives, and funding programs, the EU has played a vital role in safeguarding the continent's rich natural heritage and promoting sustainable development.


Overall, Germany's rich biodiversity is a testament to the country's commitment to conservation and preserving its natural heritage. Wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike will find plenty to admire in Germany's varied ecosystems.


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FURTHER READING:


Good News for a Change: The Harz Lynx Project - An old Inhabitant of the Harz has returned! 📽📽 Updated: April 4, 2018


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