In 1995 RtW was inspired by the hobby-ornithologist and commissioner for nature conservation Alfred Amberger. During the ongoing field research about bear and lynx they then started to watch, count and document owls and diurnal birds of prey more intensively.
In 1996 RtW started a support project for bats. Due to the strict building insulation regulations, bats were losing their shelter at an alarming rate in both urban and rural areas. Also modern forestry policy far too often turns “natural” woods with natural hiding and breeding places in hollow trees into monotonous, “machine friendly” stands. In combination with schools, local governments, the ÖBF (The Austrian Forestry Board) and private initiatives more than 10.000 “breeding boxes” for bats (modified type of Stratmann-planned boxes) were installed on trees in suitable places.
Since 1997 RtW offers day-long excursions to local people, guests and other interested persons. The theme is: “Sharing the environment of bear, lynx, bearded and griffon vultures.” These excursions, which only include 5 Persons, are becoming more increasingly acclaimed.
In 1999 the zoologist Manuela Siller worked additionally on the existing woodpecker populations. The investigation showed their alarming decline, except for the Black and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
By 2005 RtW had found out some of the reasons for this decline and started a woodpecker-project. With the active support of the Carinthian government, Department of Agriculture (with LR Dr. Josef Martinz), the Austrian Forestry Board (under the administration of DI Günther Tragatschnig) and private forest owners, 8 to 10 suitable trees per hectare of Carinthian woodland could now be marked with a woodpecker symbol and therefore are protected from logging for their lifetime.
Furthermore, RtW has been working within the monitoring programme of the international Bearded Vulture Project since 2000 and as ornithological observer in the Bird Life association of Carinthia since 2006.
Already 2001 one subject of an endangered owl species, an Ural Owl (Strix uralensis), was observed in an isolated area of the natural park Weissensee by the zoologist Manuela Siller and Hans Peter Sorger. This species is a relict from the ice age and is only found sporadic in Europe. Mainly in January and February during the last 10 years the distinctive singing of this "nightly raptor" could be heared. Respect to Wildlife worked out a conservation project for the Ural Owl, supported by members of Birdlife. Due to the lack of dead wood as breeding opportunity for these owls there had to be put up 20 to 30 nest boxes with a mirror in a selected area, which will have to be checked on a regular basis the next years. The decision was made to use over 40 years lasting nest boxes, which were fixed up on by the landowners approved trees in about 7-8 meters altitude. Already in 2010 we were able to buy and mount 10 of these nest boxes promoted by the Carinthian Land government, the Austrian Bundesforste in Carinthia and private landowners as well as through sponsorships by the citizens of Weissensee and Carinthia.
Photo W. Windhorst
At least 10 nature-experience excursions per year with pupils take place.
"Die Spur" – Association for Nature- and Waldpädagogik
Cover photo H.P. Sorger