On burrowed time: France pays up for the great hamster

18th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

France has earmarked 500,000 euros to save the great hamster, a species threatened with extinction through loss of habitat

   PARIS, February 18, 2008 - France has earmarked 500,000 euros (735,000
dollars) to save the great hamster, a species threatened with extinction
through loss of habitat in its native Alsace, the ecology ministry said on
Friday.
   There are only between 400 and 1,000 great hamsters (Cricetus cricetus)
left, living near the eastern city of Strasbourg, and at least 1,500 are
needed to reach a threshold of viability.
   Also known as the European hamster, the burrowing creature is about the
size of a guinea pig, with a black belly and light brown back.
   The money will mainly go towards protecting areas where the remaining
hamster colonies live and to encourage local farmers to grow alfalfa, the
hamsters' food of choice, the ministry said in a press release.
   France had been strongly warned by the European Commission last October to
beef up action to save the creature, protected under Europe's "Natura 2000"
law.

AFP 

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