The Alps are home to many animal species, from the iconic to the reclusive.
Some species are in danger of extinction, whilst others have been reintroduced or have returned of their own accord. For many animals, protected natural areas are an essential safe haven.
The fragmentation of the land and urban sprawl have also made it harder for animals to move around (migration, searching for food, breeding, etc.) so it is now essential that we maintain or create links between their living areas, such as biological corridors.
Approximately 30,000 animal species have been identified in the Alps, including:
- 15 different reptiles
- 21 amphibians (including one indigenous species)
- Around 80 species of fish
- Around 80 mammals, mostly mice, voles and bats, including some native species such as the Alpine field mouse and the Bavarian pine vole
- Around 200 nesting birds
- Plus an estimated 20,000 invertebrates!
The best-known and most iconic species are:
- Large ungulates: chamois, ibex, mouflon (wild sheep)
- Birds of prey: golden eagle, bearded vulture, griffon vulture
- Mountain galliformes: black grouse, ptarmigan
- Large carnivores: bear, wolf, lynx There is also the much-loved marmot.
However, other species are more reclusive or less well-known, such as the mountain hare, wallcreeper, spotted nutcracker, mountain apollo butterfly, rosalia longicorn beetle, or the large Alpine salamander, which was only discovered in 1988. Found on the French and Italian slopes of Monte Viso, its extremely limited geographical range makes the large Alpine salamander one of the rarest amphibians in the world!