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400 salamanders rescued from rainwater reservoir

15:47 25/08/2020

Not only were human beings affected by this month's intense heatwave: in the town of Wevelgem in West Flanders, hundreds of salamanders sought refuge in the rainwater reservoir of a residential construction project that turned out to be a deadly trap.

Luckily, volunteer environmental organization Naturpuunt and the local municipality intervened to rescue the animals before it was too late.

The incident draws attention to a larger issue, not only impacting salamanders, but also frogs, toads, and mice.

While the Flemish government requires since 2013 that rainwater needs to either infiltrate the soil or be collected for further use, there are no guidelines regarding animal protection.

"Just like in this case, rainwater reservoirs are often concrete pits with steep walls and no climbing options for animals," said Natuurpunt's Kristina Naeyaert.

Instead, she suggests natural basins surrounded by grass with easy escape routes for animals.

"We ask engineering firms to pay attention to this in the future," she said. "Currently, many reservoirs are ecological traps."

Photo courtesy Natuurpunt

Written by Sarah Schug