Wildlife of Switzerland
A few hundred years ago, this area had populations of bear, wolf, lynx and bearded vulture, but sadly they had already died out before the foundation of the National Park in 1914. The last bear in Switzerland was killed on 1st September 1904 in the S-charl valley, only a few years before the National Park came into being. An attempt to reintroduce the lynx in 1972 failed. The animals set free had already disappeared by 1980.
Switzerland is facing a loss of biodiversity.While the country is quite small, the wide range of climates allow a variety of organisms to flourish. There are about 50,000 animal and plant species living in Switzerland. While most species that live on north and south foothills of the Alps are generally doing well, the Swiss Plateau is seeing a decrease in many species. The pressure from city and agricultural growth is reducing or eliminating the habitat of many species that once flourished along the plateau. There are about 60 species that are considered endangered that live in Switzerland. To help offset this, 28.6% of the country is set aside as a protected natural area.
Lynx, which became extinct in Switzerland at the turn of the century, have been reintroduced in recent years, and there are now about 50 in the country. The public has not totally accepted the lynx, and hunters complain of competition for deer and other game.
Drs Urs Breitenmoser and Heinrich Haller of the University of Bern, Switzerland, who have been studying spatial organisation and feeding habits of lynx in the Swiss Alps, report that ungulates gradually adapt to the presence of lynx, but their space requirements increase.
At present the lynx in the northern Alps occurs mainly in large forest areas of over 500 km2, where the population density is estimated at about one adult to 85 km2.
The WWF conservation organisation says there are about 100 lynx in Switzerland. BBC
The lynx became extinct in Switzerlandin 1915, but was reintroduced in 1971. From here, the lynx migrated to Austria, where they have been exterminated as well. A higher proportion are killed by human causes than by infectious diseases.
One hundred years ago, the brown bear was extinct in Switzerland as in most other parts of the Alpine region.
During the last few years, the remaining populations in Slovenia and especially in the Trentino, northern Italy, have been increasing once more. Thus, thanks to legal protection and reintroduction programs, bears are expanding and reclaiming areas of their former distribution. Since south-eastern Switzerland is very close to the Trentino, a natural return to this country seems possible. This study deals with the basic question of whether there is any suitable habitat to be found in the densely populated and intensely used landscape that is
Switzerland. Further, the study gives a first insight into potential migration routes for dispersing bears and possible
conflicts that could arise, if the bear should indeed return.
Ifyou’re looking to combine the delights of alpine birdwatching with a little gentle walking and a wider appreciation of the natural world, this trip is for you. Alpine Accentor and Snowfinch await – perhaps even Rock Partridge, too – on this spectacularly scenic week based at a single hotel in the beautiful Val d’Herens.