Located in Central Europe, the Republic of Poland is a large country that covers a total area of 312,696 km2 (120,733 sq mi).
This country is known for several things, but one of the most interesting is its geography.
Poland is the ninth-largest country in Europe, with most of its total area being land and the rest split between internal waters and territorial sea.
In terms of topography, the nation is diverse, with many forests, islands, lakes, hills, rivers, etc.
Because of its ecological diversity, Poland is home to many animal species.
These animals have their preferred habitats, but many choose to inhabit the eastern part of the country, home to many dense forests.
The most common animals in Poland are birds, and its national animal is the white-tailed eagle.
Numerous animals in Poland face countless threats, and this article will mention a few endangered or critically endangered species in Poland, the threats they face, and whether or not conservation efforts are in place for them.
6. European Mink
Also called the Russian or Eurasian mink, the European mink (Mustela lutreola) is a semi-aquatic mammal under the mustelid species native to Europe.
Unfortunately, this species falls under the category of critically endangered animals, and its population has been declining dramatically over the past few decades.
One country where the European mink population has declined rapidly is Poland, where conservationists are fighting to save this species from extinction.
Like other animals under the mustela genus, the European mink has an elongated body and short limbs.
However, it has a more stocky build than the others and has a large head and small ears.
The European mink weighs between 1.2 and 1.8 pounds, and it typically reaches around 15 to 17 inches in length in males, while females average 14 to 16 inches.
Various factors in Poland, including habitat loss, pollution, hunting, and competition with alien species like the American mink, have threatened the European mink.
The American mink was introduced to Europe in the early 20th century for fur farming and has since escaped into the wild and become a significant competitor and predator of the European mink.
Establishing mink reserves has been one of Poland’s primary efforts to rescue the European mink.
These reserves are wetlands designated for the express purpose of preserving European mink habitat.
5. European Otter
The European otter, otherwise called the common otter, Eurasian otter, or Eurasian river otter, is a semi-aquatic mammal in several parts of Europe, including Poland.
Despite being the most widely distributed member of the otter subfamily, the European otter population in Poland has declined over the years.
Some factors that led to this decline include hunting, pollution, and habitat loss.
Only a few differences exist between the European otter and other members of the otter subfamily.
These long, slender creatures, brown on top and cream below, are well-suited for aquatic lifestyles.
They typically reach 22 to 37 inches, but females are shorter than males.
They also average 15-26 pounds, with some records showing males weighing as much as 37 pounds.
In Poland, the European otter inhabits rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
However, human activities have fragmented and polluted their habitats and caused their population to reduce.
Reintroducing the species to the Biebrza National Park has been a notable success in Poland’s efforts to save the European otter.
4. Common Hamster
The common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), the Eurasian hamster, or black-bellied hamster, is a rodent species found in most parts of Eurasia, including Poland.
This animal’s population in Poland has declined steadily in recent years.
From tens of thousands that existed in various habitats across the country, an estimated 2,000-4,000 individuals are left.
With a black belly and small limbs, the common hamster has brown fur with white patches.
This animal weighs 7.8–16.2 ounces and reaches 8-14 inches in body length.
In Poland, common hamsters prefer to inhabit grasslands, wetlands, and farmlands.
These animals are omnivores and like to eat various legume plants and insects.
They are also nocturnal and primarily solitary.
The fragmentation and destruction of habitat are two primary risks to the common hamster in Poland.
It is challenging for the species to locate sites that are good for living and reproducing since it requires a particular habitat, which is becoming scarce in Poland.
Another threat to this species is agricultural intensification, including using pesticides and fertilizers, making it difficult for the animal to find food and survive.
3. Garden Dormouse
The garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus) is a small rodent that can be found throughout Europe, including Poland.
In Poland, gardens, parks, and deciduous and mixed woodlands are home to members of this species.
The garden dormouse is one of the smallest mammals in Europe, and although it is relatively common, its population in Poland has reduced over the years.
The garden dormouse is a small animal the size of a mouse with a bushy tail.
It has a creamy underside and is gray or brown.
It has giant ears and black eye markings. Its tail also has a white tassel at the end, while its fur is short.
The garden dormouse is renowned for its capacity for tree climbing and its preference for habitats with dense vegetation.
The habitat of the garden dormouse has been drastically diminished due to deforestation and changes in land use in many areas of Poland, which has resulted in the fragmentation of their populations.
The Polish garden dormouse is likewise in danger from climate change.
The habitat of the dormouse may change as temperatures rise, which may also influence food availability.
Poland is engaged in several conservation initiatives to safeguard the garden dormouse, like establishing protected areas that serve as a haven for the species.
2. Northern Bald Ibis
The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita), the waldrapp, or hermit ibis, is an endangered bird species native to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Although listed as endangered, many consider this species extinct in Poland.
The northern bald ibis was once a common sight in Poland, with records indicating that the bird was present in the country as far back as the 16th century.
However, by the 20th century, its population in the country significantly declined.
With black plumage, the northern bald ibis lives up to its name with an unfeathered red head.
Its legs and face are also red, with a long curved bill.
With an average weight of 35-46 oz, this bird has a wingspan of 49-53 inches.
Although similar in color, the primary way to distinguish between the sexes is by their sizes, as males weigh more.
The decline of the northern bald ibis in Poland was primarily caused by habitat loss and hunting.
Also, using chemicals in agriculture harmed the bird’s food sources, making it more difficult to survive in the wild.
Conservation efforts to reintroduce the northern bald ibis to Poland began in the 1990s, led by the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds and other organizations.
1. Aquatic Warbler
The aquatic warbler is a small bird species that breeds in marshy wetlands in Europe and Asia.
In Poland, it is one of the most endangered bird species.
Despite its endangerment status in the country, Poland is home to 30-40% of the world’s aquatic warbler population.
Typically, aquatic warblers are small.
They have a light color with heavy brown streaks down their backs, flattened foreheads, and pointed bills.
These birds are migratory, spending their winter in West Africa and the rest of the year in various parts of Europe and Asia.
They prefer to inhabit wetlands in Poland, which serve as their breeding area.
Significant breeding and feeding grounds for the aquatic warbler have been lost because of the drainage of wetlands for agricultural and industrial uses.
The species has also been shown to be at risk from predation by domestic cats and other animals.
Implementing conservation measures in the Biebrza Valley has been one of Poland’s most fruitful initiatives to conserve the aquatic warbler.
Conservation measures in the valley include the restoration of wetlands, the management of water levels, and the removal of invasive species.