The Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)HABITAT: riverine wetlands (National Park Donauauen) On the one hand, it needs sandy-loamy river banks where it builds its breeding tunnels - On the other hand, the kingfisher needs an ever-evolving river bank structure with overhanging branches as perches, wherefrom it can catch small fish better.River regulation has led to the elimination ofsuitable habitats for the kingfisher.Of great danger to the kingfisher is thepollution of waters by toxic chemicals fromindustry, but also through over-fertilization byagriculture and runofffrom residential areas. The Danube 1820 (Lobau)Because of negative population growth inmost parts of Europe, Special ProtectionAreas have been arranged like in the NationalPark Donauauen. The Danube wetlandsshelter the most important kingfisherbreeding grounds in all of Austria The Danube 2007 (Lobau)
The Sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus)HABITAT: freshwater/ riverine wetlands (National Park Donauauen)The Sterlet is the only living representative of the sturgeon familywhich lives year round in freshwater.It’s from 40-60cm long to the maximum of 1m.It is critically endangered of becoming extinct in the Danube.Overfishing is the majorthreat to the species all overthe world.In Austria, dam constructionled to the loss of spawninggrounds across the speciesrange.All other sturgeon species ofthe Danube above the IronGate- are thought to beextinct since it can’t bepassed-. The Iron Gate So it is being supported by breeding and stocking in the Donau-Auen National Park.
The Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber)HABITAT: riverine wetlands (National Park Donauauen)The beaver is the "master builder" of riverine landscapes. Byfelling trees, the beaver makes a significant contribution tobiodiversity by providing habitats for many other species.In Austria, beavers had been extinguished by the middle of the19th century, because they had been hunted for fur, meat,castoreum oil (a syrup-like secretion produced by the beaver),beaver fat, testicles and blood, which were believed to havecurative powersStarting in the 1970s, they were restored on the Salzach and Innrivers as well as in the Danube wetlands east of Vienna. There arecurrently between 800-1000 individuals in Austria.Despite the population’s recovery and itsre-introduction, the beaver remainsendangered.In large areas of the Danube River Basin, itis still absent.The lifestyle of a beaver requires waterareas close to riverbanks where humansdon’t grow or cultivate anything.
The Southern Festoon (Zerynthia polyxena)HABITAT: mainly vineyards, wetlands (National Park Donauauen)The Southern Festoon prefers open landscapes where its solefood plant Aristolochia (Aristolochia clematitis) grows – whichexplains also its unusual name.In German, this butterflys common name is in fact"Osterluzeifalter", while the herb is called "Osterluzei".The Festoon is named after the plant without which it can’t live.It is interesting that this plant isvery poisonous; this poison getsinto the caterpillar and remains inthe butterfly, so it is inedible forother animals.Since the festoon is dependent onits food plant its population is alsodecreasing because the food plantis disappearing. It is critically endangered in all of Austria.Festoons can be protected by leaving fallow land which is theirmost suitable habitat.
The Common Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)HABITAT: stagnant or slow-moving waters riverine wetlands (National Park Donauauen)The Common Frogbit is a free-floatingaquatic plant with long hanging roots; oftenbuilding huge floating colonies.It lives in lakes or slow-moving waters richin nitrogen and minerals but low in chalk. Itprefers calcium rich water with no waveaction.Only scattered specimens are found inmost parts of Austria. In three provinces(Carinthia, Tyrol and Vorarlberg) thespecies is rare and perhaps extinct.Its natural habitats are reducing becauseof water pollution and drain or loss of their natural habitat, so it isvigorously protected in most parts of Austria.
The Barn Owl (Tyto Alba)HABITAT: mainly farmland or grassland also woodlandThe Barn Owl is noctural, but it often becomes active shortlybefore dusk.It prefers to hunt along the edges of woods.As a synanthropic bird it often lives on or near farms.Owls consume more rodents than possibly any othercreature. This should make the Barn Owl one of themost economically valuable wildlife animals tofarmers.In Austria, the Barn Owl is endangered because humansdestroyed the natural hunting ground and the favoured old barns,by using harmful poisons to reduce the rodent population.While the Barn Owl is able to recover from short-term populationdecreases, they are not as common in some places as they used tobe.BIRD LIFE Austria has started a species conservation project inselected parts of Lower Austria. By hanging up marten-proofnesting boxes, and asking farmers to make their barns accessibleto owls again, they try to help to recover the Barn Owl population.
The European Souslik (Spermophilus citellus)HABITAT: mainly steppes, pasturesThe European Souslik has quitespecific habitat requirements.It is restricted to short-grass steppesand similar artificial habitats(pastures, lawns, sports fields, golfcourses) where it can build itsburrows.The European Souslik is currently in serious decline.The main threats to this species are the conversion of steppe-grassland and pasture to cultivated fields or forestry, which arenot suitable for the souslik.In Austria it is therefore largely restricted to vineyards, airstrips,golflinks, sport- and camping grounds and other frequently mownlawns where it is completely dependent on the tolerance of theownersThere are special species conservation areas like the„Perchtoldsdorfer Heide“, where people try to educate othersabout the Souslik.
The European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)HABITAT: woodland, farmland, suburban areasIt is nocturnal and if alarmed will roll itself into a ball,protecting itself against potential enemies with itsspines.Reasons for the endangerment are pesticide pollutionand therefore the loss of basic food resource, theimpoverishment of landscape. Their habitat namely hedges aredestroyed so they withdraw in parks and private gardens. Theretheir main enemies are: the lawnmowers, fertilizers and againpesticides. Another serious reason is traffic, because hedgehogs are not able to flee.In Austria, there are several associations which try to educatepeople how to help the hedgehogs, breed orphaned hedgehogs orhelp to build hedgehog-friendly gardens.
The Common Toad (Bufo Bufo)HABITAT: various habitatsToads live in just about any water hole they can find. They spendmost of their time either in the water or on land near the watersedge, but can also be found in dry countryside well away fromstanding waterOn their Spring migration the Common Toad and theCommon Frog, are in great danger when crossing roadsby night to get to their spawning grounds.So in Austria, there are several projects, which help the CommonToads to get there without harm:Fences are put up to protect them. Bytransporting toads in buckets lots ofthese amphibians can be saved frompossible death.Amphibian tunnels are built underneath streets, people are askednot to use streets at particular points or times, or artificialcompensatory habitats are built, so that the toads don’t have tocross streets.
The Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)HABITAT: mainly in or near mixed woodlandThe Fire Salamander is the best-known salamander species inEurope.It mainly lives at the edge of mixed forests where it can find dryplaces to hide as well as bodies of water (small springs/brooks,...)nearby.Fire Salamanders are endangered because each year some ofthese bodies of water are destroyed mainly due to environmentalpollution. Furthermore there is a decrease of typical mixedwoodland that is essentially needed and a lot of fire salamandersare killed when crossing streets to get to their spawning grounds.Some conservation measures in Austriaare recovery and preservation ofspawning grounds, long-term rebuildingof conifer forests back to natural mixedwoodlands as well as amphibian tunnelsto get them safely to their spawninggrounds.
The Alpine Salamander (Salamandra atra)HABITAT: alpine mixed woodland, alpine meadows, couloirsIt is found in the Central, Eastern and DinaricAlps at altitudes above 700 meters.Unlike other salamanders whose larvae aredeveloped in water, the Alpine salamander is afully terrestrial, live-bearing species.The main reason for their endangerment is thedestruction of their natural habitat by opening up mountain roads,intensive cultivation of alpine meadows for cattle or application ofartificial fertilizers or sewage.Because of its local rareness it is strictly protected.Their population status and distribution in Austria and Salzburghas not yet been monitored extensively and despite its central rolein the ecosystem, existing scientific records are scarce.The preservation of hiding places on alpine meadows is essentialfor this species.
The Eurasian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos)HABITAT: primarily forests, alpine forestsIn central Europe, brown bears live in wooded areas, and as longas sufficient food and places for hibernation are present, it isrelatively unimportant for them how their habitat looks like.Seen as a supposed food competitor and a danger for people andtheir cattle, the brown bear was hunted into extinction in manyplaces. Therefore only a few brown bears can be found in Middle -and Western Europe.At the moment there are no femalebears in or near Austria, whichmakes breeding a problem. Sobringing female bears from otherareas to Austria would help a lot. Individual bears ;February 2010There are several organisations and projects which try to preventthe brown bears from extinction, like the WWF Austria.Everyone can support them by donating or applying formembership.
The Wild Grape (Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris)HABITAT: riverine wetlands (National Park Donauauen)It is the wild and now rare ancestor of the Common Grape. Itsbeautiful autumn leaves make it a seasonaleye-catcher in the riparian forest. The WildGrape prefers warm, fresh to moderate drysoils, which are not too chalky.It is very rare in Austria and only grows inVienna and Lower Austria along theriparian forests of the Danube. The onlysignificant occurrence of this plant inAustria is in the Donauauen National Park.Because its incidence is limited to Vienna and Lower Austria, thespecies is classified as endangered in Austria. Wild grapevines arebecoming endangered in their natural habitats since dams areeliminating the natural water flow.Supporting these special protection areas and educating othersabout the endangerment is essential for this species’ survival!
The European Hamster (Cricetus cricetus)HABITAT: farmland, meadows, grasslandThe European Hamster can grow to 34 - 40 centimetres and isconsidered to be the most multi-coloured European animal.It is mainly dawn and night active and a loner, so each animalpossesses its own burrow.Preferred food of the hamster are seeds,legumes, root vegetables and grasses andalso insects.It transports its food in its elastic cheekpouches to the food storage chambers.In Austria, the population decreased drastically in the last 30years. Extensive mechanization in agriculture and the use ofpesticides is largely to blame for this.Safety measures, similar to those for the European Souslik shouldbe framed and farmers should cultivate their farms in ways thatare more hamster-friendly!
The Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis clusii)HABITAT: woodland, ridges, gardensIt is generally rare, being listed as an endangered species inSwitzerland and Austria. Its name is not related to the Englishword ‘service’, but derived instead from its Latin name ‘sorbus’(member of the rose family)The Wild Service tree is a very rare wild fruit tree. It was chosen“Tree of the Year” 2012.Many pollinators e.g. social bees, bumblebees and beetles chooseits blossoms. The tree itself does not grow in groups. It needs a lotof light and grows very slowly.The fruits used to be eaten as a cure for colic and diarrhoea. Thefruits are also used to produce exquisite liquors, especially inGermany and Austria. The wood of the Wild Service Tree is one ofthe most valuable hardwoods in Europe. One of the main reasons for its endangerment is the damage caused by road salting which dries out the leaves. The second enemy for the tree are gall mites.By stopping road salting we could preserve and protect the WildService Tree.
The Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)HABITAT: semi desert/ rocky, mountainsThe Northern Bald Ibis was once widespread in Europe datingback at least 1.8 million years. It disappeared from Europe over300 years ago, and is now considered critically endangered.The reasons for the species long-term decline are unclear, buthunting, loss of habitat, and pesticide poisoning have been areason for the rapid loss of colonies in the last decades.For the first time in 300 years, a batch of Northern Bald Ibis chickscame out of their eggs and on to Austrian ground.The Austrian biologist Dr Johannes Fritz, a birdlover made them come back to the Austrian Alpsby showing them the way using a microlight.Dr Fritz used a technique to make sure that hewas the first thing that the rare ibis chicks sawwhen they hatched. He and his team taught them how to survive in the wild, how to hunt worms and how to find food on their owns. He even gave them special flight training.
The European Green Lizard (Lacerta viridis viridis)HABITAT: forest edges, halfdry grassland, also National Park DonauauenLike all lizards, the European Green Lizard is exclusively diurnal.It is restricted to warm locationswith sufficient moisture andtherefore highly vulnerable.In Austria, it is restricted tothe eastern provinces where itis native in the National ParkDonauauen.Unfavourable climaticconditions and climaticchanges can lead to stocklosses. Furthermore the improvement of infrastructure,encroachment and possibly also catching wild individuals areserious threats to the European Green Lizard.To protect it from becoming extinct, we can offer more habitatsand support the National Park Donauauen and have to stopcatching wild individuals out of their habitat.
The Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus)HABITAT: open, semi-shaded woodland, wetland, bushy mountainsidesThe Lady’s Slipper Orchid is one of the most splendid wild-growingorchid and is therefore protected by law in Europe.There are a great number of reasonswhy it is endangered.Not only is it unable to adjust to the rapidchanges of the environment caused byhumans like wetlands drainage, roadconstruction, tree cutting, herbicidesand uprooting, but they are also illegallypicked by people.As protection against extinction variousactions have been taken, such as puttingup protection fences around stocks oreven standing guard during theblooming time.The Lady’s Slipper Orchid can also be preserved by keeping riversin their natural form and not using herbicides.
The Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)Habitat : gardens, hedges,fields and woodlandThe Scarce Swallowtail is considered to be one of the mostbeautiful European butterflies.Over the last decades it suffered fromgreat losses of territory.One of the main food plants is theblackthorn bush, which is being clearedrigorously and so the Scarce Swallowtailis getting rarer.Although considered rare -endangeredand protected in some provinces of Austria it is however unlistedin the IUCN Red List.It is not only important to protect their natural habitat, but also toensure the replanting and new-planting of food plants.
The European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)HABITAT: various habitats close to blooming plants"Bees are the builders of biodiversity”. After cattle and pigs,experts say bees are the third most important species of "farmanimal”, helping to pollinate 80 percent of plants.Bee populations have been mysteriously declining in recent yearsall over the world.According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the die-offis due to a combination of parasites, viral and bacterial infections,pesticides and poor nutrition caused by the impact of humanactivities on the environment.So a lot of researches have been started to get more informationand find ways of protecting the bee populations all over the world.Viennas famed Opera House is buzzingwith a new star attraction this season: abeehive on its roof to celebrate theInternational Year of Biodiversity.The rooftop stars are part of a greenproject called "Vielfaltleben" beehive on top of the Opera(Diversity of Life) sponsored byAustrias Environmental Ministry.
The Alpine Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum)HABITAT: rocky limestone, mountainsThe Alpine Edelweiß, which in the German languagemeans noble and white, is found generally at altitudesfrom 1700 meters to 2700 meters.Edelweiss flowers are classified as short livedperennials, which after being picked during a number ofgrowing seasons from the same plant, are unable topropagate by seeding and will disappear from a formerlyestablished area.Around the middle of the 19th century, the Edelweissgained great popularity, whereby the hunt for the smallstar-shaped flower began. By picking and uprootingmany stocks have been destroyed.At the International Conference of Alpine Clubs inObwalden, Switzerland (1878) in conjunction with thegovernments of Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Italy,the Edelweiss was protected in a large part of theEuropean Alps.By that time it had already disappeared along the morepopular hiking and climbing routes.