"The last three individuals of the European ground squirrel were observed this year on 17th October. It was in the locality with the most frequent occurrence of ground squirrel in Slovakia – Biele Vody near Muráň. Until the first days of October they were also active in Hrhov, which is one of two areas in the Slovak Karst, where we have been actively helping them for the fifth year within the LIFE Energy project. At the beginning of the project, 75 ground squirrels lived in two separate colonies. This year the number of ground squirrels has exceeded 1 000. Another project area is Gemerská Hôrka, where the ground squirrels nearly died out. The last 15 individuals were in 4 places. We managed to save the colony and increase the number of ground squirrels up to 100 in the autumn of 2018, ”says Ervín Hapl from the Raptor Protection in Slovakia.
Once a common animal, later very rare, it slowly returns to Slovak nature. It requires an area that is regularly grazing or mowed. The loss of pasture is the reason why the sousliks completely disappeared from many places. In the LIFE Energy project we manage areas where it can be expanded - in addition to regular mowing, we have also removed trees and shrubs. We also fed them with sunflowers and apples; such a measure helps to survive a higher number of animals during winter, while also supporting a larger number of youngsters in females.
• You can find out more about the project LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272 ENERGIA on the web site www.lifeenergia.sk , eventually www.facebook.com/lifeenergia.sk.
• Project is supported by European Union within a LIFE program. It contributes significantly to improvement of conditions for the criterial species of birds in Natura 2000 sites.