Even though we may not see them often, there are many beautiful animals in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, many of these species are not doing well because of traffic, small habitats, light pollution, pesticides etc. However, all of them still play an important part in our ecosystem. Hedgehogs, for example, help control snails and bats eat about 300 mosquitoes and other insects per night. Birds of prey are crucial in controlling mice and rats and they also ensure that the populations of other prey animals remain healthy. They consume sick individuals, so the diseases cannot spread any further. In conclusion, it is really important that we help these animals!
How you can help
You can help animals by organizing your garden in an animal-friendly way: foresee hiding places, place shelters and make sure that animals can easily enter and leave your garden.
Besides this, you can also help animals by sponsoring our herbs, bushes, hedgehog cabinets, bat boxes or nesting boxes for birds of prey. We will make sure that these are placed in the right location, so they can contribute to the protection of local animal species. Below you can find more information on the different animals.
The purpose of hedgehog cabinets
The hedgehog’s distribution has diminished by 50% in the last 10 years. Because of that, the hedgehog is now classified as endangered according to the international IUCN criteria. Hedgehogs face several threats:
- Every year between 100 000 and 300 000 hedgehogs die in traffic. Depending on the location, that makes up 6 to 20% of the population.
- Sometimes people disturb their nests.
- There are often not enough natural shelters such as brambles, hedges and fallen trees. As a consequence, hedgehogs tend to build their nests in less suitable places such as areas for waste incineration (where they can burn), compost heaps (where they can be hit by a shovel) or in garages and closets (where they can be locked in). Also pay attention to the use of slug pellets and insecticides in gardens, as they are deadly for hedgehogs. The animals can also get stuck in cans and cups that are lying around.
The purpose of nesting boxes for birds of prey
Kestrels are part of the Red list of Dutch breeding birds and have been classified as vulnerable. The tawny owl is the most common type of owl in Europe and is not threatened. It is a beautiful animal and plays an important part in the ecosystem. There are several reasons why birds of prey often end up dead:
- Many of these birds are killed by increasing traffic.
- Some are electrocuted by power lines.
- Toxic substances are often spread on fields, meadows and gardens. They are supposed to take out all the weeds and harmful insects, but mice also end up ingesting them. This makes them sick and an easy prey for birds, who also get poisoned by eating the mice.
The purpose of bat boxes
Geoffroy’s bat, the greater mouse-eared bat and the grey long-eared bat are part of the Red List of threatened mammals. They are endangered due to the following reasons:
- Certain species like to live in wooden buildings such as attics of churches and barns. However, if the wood has been treated for wood beetles, the bats are often killed. Attics and basements are also becoming more and more difficult for the bats to enter.
- Because of the use of chemical insecticides, bats’ main source of food is disappearing and these products also end up in their bodies.
- Trees are often felled while bats are still inside. Certain types hibernate or raise their young in hollow trees. Few trees meet their requirements and those that can be found, are often cut down as they can be dangerous for pedestrians or for traffic. Because of this, many populations die.
- Their habitats (hunting grounds, places to stay during winter and summer) are disappearing.
- (Nursery) colonies are often destroyed due to ignorance. Many people still believe that bats are dangerous, which is absolutely not the case.
- Young and inexperienced bats are sometimes caught by cats when they first fly out.
Project Valkenburg aan de Geul, The Netherlands
Faunawatch and Kasteeldomein De Cauberg are working together on a project to increase biodiversity in Valkenburg aan de Geul. Together with our volunteers, we have planted over 600 herbs, plants and bushes to attract more animal species to the area. We have also placed 25 bat boxes, nesting boxes for birds of prey, hedgehog cabinets and bee hotels. 3 information signs also educate visitors on 6 animal species. In spring we will also sow 25 different kinds of flowers in an area of 1.000 m2.