DIRTY DEEDS

A fence meant to deter refugees is threatening one of Europe’s rarest mammals

Obsession
Borders
Obsession
Borders

Saving a species from extinction can be difficult work, especially when they are literally under our feet. Last week, Hungarian conservationists determined to save the Vojvodina blind mole rat didn’t have many choices–they started to dig out the hand-sized rodents, one by one.

There are only 400 Vojvodina blind mole rats left in the world. Two-thirds of them live in Hungary. These completely blind animals spend their entire lives underground, but currently conservationists only know about two populations in the country. The larger one with around 200 individuals lives in the outskirts of a southern city called Baja.

But the other population dug their tunnels just across the Hungarian-Serbian border where the Hungarian government last year erected a fence to deter refugees trying to reach Western Europe. What was once only a political barrier is now a physical one, essentially splitting the mole population into two parts. Conservationists fear that could speed up their extinction.

It’s also uncertain how much the increased traffic at the border affects the rodents, but conservationists believe they can’t afford to lose any individuals.

Thus, a plan was made to relocate some of the border population to a safer spot. Rangers have relocated only seven blind mole rats so far.

As you can see from the video above, resettling blind mole rats requires a lot of ingenuity.

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