Ideas to protect animals in the city

Updated on 07/29/2022 at 2:23 PM

  • Species protection isn’t just something for nature reserves.
  • You can and should start in the city, because there are more and more wild animals living there too.
  • Twelve ideas from people interested in animal welfare.

More nature themes can be found here

Until now, cities were designed to fit people. Animals – we think – live in the forest, in the fields, in the water and in the mountains. But this is wrong. Rural areas have been disappearing for decades. They are guarded and cultivated, but above all they become impoverished as a result of intensive cultivation. As a result, animals lose their homes. Now it is above all the cities that have become their retreats.

For example, hedgehogs have long been urban dwellers, and the population density is now greater in urban areas than in rural areas. In some large cities, up to ten foxes live in one square kilometer, pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies find a greater variety of food in gardens and parks than in agricultural areas, and ducks breed on balconies, terraces and in courtyards.

competing needs

But the city’s living space is limited, and the needs of humans and animals are in competition. The increasingly intense development, the disappearance of wastelands and confined areas, the permanent light at night and, above all, road traffic threatens the survival of the animals.

How would it be better to live together in the city? That’s what we asked people interested in preserving the species. Here are their solution ideas.

Read also: Study: Fin whale populations in Antarctica are recovering

Butterflies and wild bees

the problem:

As there are fewer and fewer wastelands and dead woods, wild bees are losing their habitat. They find neither shelter nor food in gravel gardens. The diameter of the movement of animals is a few hundred meters around their nest. In this narrow beam they have to find suitable forage plants, and they cannot switch to other food sources. Butterfly caterpillars depend on herbs such as nettle as food. Night mites are affected by constant light at night and die from exhaustion.

The big solution:

Cities have set up pop-up artworks that also serve to protect species. Nesting aids and artwork made of dead wood or clay run through the city like a ribbon. People can admire the diversity of life, insects will have islands with food and nesting places.

More ideas:

  • Giving Rethink: There’s a bug motel for birthdays.
  • Species protection must be taught in schools much more than before – through school gardens and other projects.

common frogs

the problem:

In the spring, the frogs migrate to the egg-laying waters where they were born. If these bodies of water are drained, polluted, or overcrowded, the animals will search for new bodies. They travel up to five kilometers while hiking, and run about 600 meters per day. Toads are slow and therefore especially threatened in road traffic. The common frog takes about 15 minutes to cross the road. Other dangers include basement poles, into which they fall and starve to death, as well as cats and dogs.

The big solution:

Building standards are being adjusted for new development areas: development plans stipulate that construction companies must establish water and winter distribution spaces in the immediate vicinity. Frogs are no longer forced to travel long distances. Fewer animals will die on the streets. Anyone who fails to create these protection zones will have to pay a penalty tax – not just once, but permanently. At the same time, there are attractive construction subsidies, both in new buildings and in existing ones. For example, owners are rewarded if they create spawning water in the garden.

More ideas:

  • Frogs have an image problem. You tend not to be one of those animals that you find cute. That’s why it’s important to highlight their good points. For example: frogs eat snails and are mosquito repellents. This image improvement could lead to more people working to protect the frogs.
  • The methods are often fatal to frogs. In typical frog trails, there should be more crossing aids such as tunnels or bridges designed to be frog-friendly, so that animals prefer to use these trails. Fences or walls should prevent the frogs from going directly onto busy roads.
  • Dog and cat owners have to pay an extra fee because their animals are among the biggest hunters. The money goes directly to protecting the species.

birds and ducks

the problem:

Sparrows cannot survive in tidy gardens without nests or food sources. Isolated facades do not provide a fertile breeding ground. Since the number of insects is drastically decreasing, an important food source is missing. Wildcats kill approximately 140 million birds in Germany each year. Ducks build their nests not only near the water, but also on balconies, terraces, and in courtyards. On their way to a suitable aquarium, they have to cross streets and sidewalks with their offspring.

The big solution:

The most beautiful village, the most beautiful garden – such competitions motivate people to give the best performances. In the future, the garden and balcony most suitable for insects or a bird-friendly house will also be given. Nature conservation organizations such as NABU already award prizes such as the “Swallow’s Friend’s House.” There should be more contests and prizes like this. Share, draw attention to them, or start it yourself – along with the Nature Conservancy, the city, via Facebook, in a club, at work, with friends.

More ideas:

  • When choosing plants in the garden and on the balcony, pay attention to insect-friendly flowers and shrubs. Wherever there are insects, birds find food.
  • Create more nesting sites in the garden.


the problem:

Hedgehogs find neither shelter nor food in sterile gardens and on enclosed roofs. They need hedges, trees and other hiding places. Because hedgehogs do not run away when in danger, but roll, they are always victims of robotic lawnmowers and brush cutters. During the mating season between May and August, males travel three to five kilometers per night to find a female. While roaming at night, there is a high risk of being run over. Half a million hedgehogs die in traffic every year.

The big solution:

Cities plan hedgehog protection zones. The main roads in the city are secured with fences or other measures, and specially constructed tunnels and bridges make it easier for animals to cross. In the quadrants located between them, protection zones are created: corners are located overgrown with dead wood, vegetation and foliage, and the ponds are provided with shallow exit areas. There are clear guidelines for people: a speed limit on the streets so that they can brake in time to cross the hedgehog. In addition, the use of robotic lawn mowers and brush cutters is prohibited.

More ideas:

  • The animal life in the city should be explored better. People need to know more about the animals in their immediate environment.

Sources used:

  • The hedgehog is a city dweller
  • Profile – Hedgehog
  • behaviour, genetics and protection of hedgehog populations in urban and suburban areas
  • British Environmental Society: Quantifying nectar production by flowering plants in urban and rural landscapes (26.01.2021).
  • Swallow’s Friend’s Home – Welcome Our Summer Messengers!
  • motorized lawn mowers – a mortal danger to hedgehogs and their partners.
  • 7 tips to save the lives of hedgehogs (23/03/2022)
This publication comes from the RiffReporter press portal. On, around 100 independent journalists report on current affairs and background information. RiffReporter was awarded a Grimme Online Award for its presentation.

It is not easy to identify all birds like the stork. Presumably typical features such as black feathers or a forked tail can also be misleading, as they do not necessarily identify the bird as a robin or a swallow. This makes it easier for you to distinguish similar birds.

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