Wildlife in the city | Global Ideas | DW | 21.10.2014

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Global Ideas

Wildlife in the city

We don’t typically think of cities as a habitat for animals, save rats, roaches and pigeons. But in fact, they’re home to many more thousands of species including monkeys, cows, bees, birds, wild boars, foxes and even penguins in some places. We take a closer look at the different facets of teeming urban wildlife in our special interactive feature.

More than half of the world’s population already lives in towns and cities. And, that figure is expected to rise to 66 percent by 2050. Growing urbanization means congested roads, imposing skyscrapers, frenetic crowds, concrete apartment blocks, honking cars and gridlocked traffic. Expanding urban sprawl gobbles up open, green spaces, squeezing out the natural habitats and refuges of a wide variety of animal and plant species.

But, that doesn’t mean that our big, bustling towns and cities are so jam-packed with human inhabitants that there’s little room for the rest of the animal kingdom. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Cities around the world are home to an astonishing diversity of bird- and animal life. From wild boars, badgers, foxes, bats to cows, monkeys, parakeets and even penguins, cities are becoming real concrete jungles.

And, it’s not hard to see why. Cities offer a patchwork of “micro-habitats” for a wide variety of bird- and animal life. So, buildings double up as artificial cliffs, sewers and drains turn into waterways, rubbish dumps are an attractive source of food and parks and gardens replace meadows and forests. Animals which have adapted to the urban environment are tolerant of the light and noise generated by human activity, and take advantage of the heat and abundant food sources.

In addition, an increasing number of city-dwellers are rediscovering their love for nature and trying to recreate lost habitats. That explains the growing popularity of roof gardens, urban gardening initiatives, as well as backyard habitats for wildlife. Plants and shrubs that produce tasty fare like pollen, nectar, berries, seeds, fruit and foliage attract migratory birds, butterflies, squirrels and other creatures. In short, cities and towns aren’t just urban spaces where animals survive, but positively thrive. Check out our interactive feature to find out more about wildlife in the city.