Beavers of Maastricht, the Netherlands


This Dutch video is about beavers in nature reserve De Kleine Weerd near Maastricht city.

The beavers of River Otter in Devon are allowed to stay if they are disease free, Natural England has announced. The beavers were first spotted in February 2014 and it is unknown how they got there: here.

World War I and animals, exhibition


Dog with gas mask during World War I

During World War I, millions of civilians died; though the percentage of civilians in total human deaths then was lower then it would become in later wars.

Millions of soldiers died; most of them conscripts, not volunteers.

And many millions of animals died; not one of them a volunteer. Marianne Lubrecht, exhibition organiser of the natural history museum in Maastricht, interviewed this morning on Dutch radio, estimated that ten million horses alone were killed in the war.

She told about an exhibition right now in her museum about the role of animals during the first world war. The military massively used animals. They tried to limit deaths a bit by providing some dogs (see photo at the top of this blog post) and horses with gas masks. However, that did not help much.

Other animals had not been enlisted by the military, but still played a role in the war. In and near the trenches, dead soldiers were often not buried; or, if they had been buried, incoming artillery grenades brought the dead bodies back to the surface. This attracted many rats feeding on the dead soldiers.

The Maastricht museum exhibition organiser also told about the role of wolves on the eastern front. There, wolves fed on dead soldiers, and sometimes attacked wounded soldiers. The enemy armies of the German and Russian empires decided to stop shooting at one another for one day; and to kill wolves instead. So, the Christmas truce of 2014 of Allied and German soldiers stopping to kill each other at least for Christmas was not the only ceasefire during World War I. Though the eastern front one was not because of peaceful motives, and decided by the top brass, not by the rank and file.

The exhibition attracts many visitors. Ms Lubrecht said she was trying to extend it beyond its originally planned final day of 4 January 2015; if museums from Belgium and elsewhere which had loaned items to Maastricht would agree with that.

Dinosaur age crab named after amateur paleontologist


Distefania vanrijsselti

This is a picture of the fossil crab species Distefania vanrijsselti; discovered near Maastricht in the Netherlands; from the Cretaceous, when dinosaurs ruled the earth. It was not a big crab; the yardstick at the bottom of the picture is one centimeter.

Translated from Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands, 5 October 2014:

During many hundreds of Saturdays amateur paleontologist Willy Rijsselt, along with his son Erik could be found in the quarry ‘t Rooth, near Maastricht. He managed to secure an unprecedented amount of fossils for his own collection, but also for science. By way of tribute, there is now a 67 million year old crab named after him: the Distefania vanrijsselti.

Good wall lizard news


This video is about counting wall lizards along the railroad to Lanaken in Belgium, near Maastricht in Limburg province in the Netherlands.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON herpetologists:

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

During the renovation of a railway line in Maastricht in 2008 the wall lizard was taken into account. For those lizards, very rare in the Netherlands then there more than 20 drystone walls were built. Since then, the population is closely monitored annually by RAVON. This monitoring showed until recently that there was a slow recovery. However, the reproductive success was lower than people hoped. But the counts of this late summer bring good news. This year, more newborn wall lizards are crawling around than ever before!

Protecting vulnerable populations

The wall lizard lives in the Netherlands originally only in Maastricht. Here live a few hundred to under a thousand animals. That may seem like a lot, but on the northern edge of its range, in an isolated habitat this species in our country is very vulnerable.

Sawfish from dinosaur age discovery


This video is called How the sawfish uses its saw.

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP:

Fossil sawfish snout, a unique discovery

Thursday, December 19, 2013 11:11

In the marl quarry of ENCI in Maastricht the fossil snout, called a rostrum, of a sawfish has been found. To our knowledge this is the first discovery in the world of the rostrum of the species Ganopristis leptodon, Brabants Dagblad daily reports.

The fish lived 66 million years ago.

See also here.

Good Dutch smooth snake news


This is a smooth snake video.

The RAVON herpetologists in the Netherlands report that for the first time since fifty years, smooth snakes have been seen on the Sint Pietersberg mountain near Maastricht.

Compared to other Dutch provinces, there are amphibian species in Limburg which lack elsewhere. On the Sint Pietersberg are also wall lizards not found elsewhere in the Netherlands; and slow worms, which do occur elsewhere. However, there are not as many snakes as in other provinces. Only in the extreme east of Limburg there are a few smooth snakes and grass snakes. To which we can now add the Maastricht smooth snakes, which reproduce.

In three years the largest limestone quarry in the Netherlands, operated by the ENCI cement plant near Maastricht, will be closed. Large area of Mount St. Peter is already being transformed into an area for nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services and other public benefits. Can we expect red-backed shrikes to appear in the area, as an indicator of a functioning ecosystem? Here.