Frequently Asked Questions

What is WWF Wildlive?

WWF Wildlive is a website launched by WWF Finland. It will bring nature close to you no matter where you are. The website features live footage of rare and endangered Finnish animals (for example the Siberian flying squirrel, forest reindeer and Saimaa ringed seal) that have gone online to highlight their plight. Normally, it takes extraordinary luck to see these species in the wild, but WWF is changing those odds. At least one camera will be streaming 24/7 and year-round.

Why has WWF Finland launched the site?

Videos like this help us raise awareness about the importance of protecting all life on Earth. We believe that awareness of the species, their lifestyle, their uniqueness and the reasons why they’re endangered helps people understand why these animals needs to be protected. We also believe that it is important to offer people the opportunity to see and experience the species for themselves. This might result in more favorable attitudes towards these species. The streaming project also promotes education, research and public knowledge.

How did WWF Finland come up with the idea?

The inspiration for WWF Wildlive came from own experience. Both in 2016 and 2017 WWF Finland has streamed live footage of endangered Saimaa ringed seals basking in the sun. The live stream, called Norppalive, went viral both years and had more 5 million views. It also was one of the most trending searches in 2016 in Finland according to Google. Now WWF Finland wants to expand the project to other species and habitats.

How can people take part in WWF Wildlive?

People can take part in WWF Wildlive by watching, sharing, or liking on social media – or simply by enjoying the show. If people wish to share WWF Wildlive on social media, they are encouraged to use the hashtag #wildlive (WWF Finland uses #luontolive). Let’s work together to spread the word about these beautiful animals and the need to protect them!

How does WWF Finland guarantee that animals can be seen?

WWF Finland cannot guarantee that the animals can be seen on the video. However, the cameras have been placed in locations where the animals have often been spotted. Patience usually pays off.

Is WWF Wildlive a fund-raising campaign?

The main goal of the project is to spread awareness and to promote research and education. WWF Finland also raises funds for the protection of the species but it’s not the main goal of WWF Wildlive.

Do the cameras disturb the animals?

The animals are not disturbed by cameras. The installation and maintenance of the cameras are also carried out without disturbing the animals. Also to avoid disturbing the animals, we cannot disclose the location of the cameras. The devices and equipment used for the live cam are installed so that they will not attract outsiders to the vicinity of the filming sites. The camera angles are chosen so that the locations cannot be identified.

What happens if the location of the camera is revealed?

If the location of the cameras become public information, WWF may have to end the stream ahead of schedule. This will be considered based on the situation at hand.

Has WWF taken the privacy protection of people into account?

Yes. The camera is disguised so that it will not disturb the wildlife but will be apparent to any people nearby. There is also a notice on the live cam next to the cameras.

Can I publish the live video on my own website?

Unfortunately not. The live stream can’t be published on other sites or on social media without the permission of WWF Finland.

Siberian Flying Squirrel

What kind of species is the Siberian flying squirrel?

Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) is mainly a nocturnal mammal. It has large eyes anda grey coat. . The female weighs about 150 grams and the male is slightly lighter. However, the size difference between a female and a male is so small that it cannot be detected by the naked eye.

Where do Siberian flying squirrels live?

Flying squirrels live in taiga forest biomes of Eurasia. They can be found in Finland and throughout Russia all the way to the Pacific Coast and even Japan. In the EU, flying squirrels are found only in Finland and Estonia. In Finland, flying squirrels live in the southern parts of the country.

Is the Siberian flying squirrel endangered and how many are there in Finland?

Siberian flying squirrel is near threatened in Finland and it is protected under the Nature Conservation Act. Its population has decreased since the middle of the 20th century. In 2006, it was estimated that there were about 143,000 flying squirrel females left. However, later on, the true population size has been estimated to be only about half of that.

Why are Siberian flying squirrels in such a danger?

The most significant reason for the decline of the flying squirrel population is forest industry – particularly clearcutting. Flying squirrels move around by gliding from tree to tree and do not cross open fields often. Flying squirrels prefer old growth forests, for they contain old trees with holes suitable for nesting as well as deciduous trees for sustenance. Old growth forests, and old trees with holes have all decreased significantly.

What does WWF do to protect Siberian flying squirrels?

WWF is striving in many ways to further the protection of both the old growth forests as well as the forest biodiversity.

Why are Siberian flying squirrels so difficult to observe?

Flying squirrels do not move around during the day much. They leave their nests after the sunset and return to their hideaway before the sun rises. In the summertime, nursing females can also forage during the day. Flying squirrels spend most of their lives up in the trees. They are usually detected only by their yellowish droppings by the trees.

What kind of glides do they make?

Flying squirrels move around the forests by gliding from tree to tree. The glide usually begins from the same branch at the top of the tree. The flying squirrel leaps with its front and rear legs stretched to the sides and it has been seen to glide up to more than 50metres. It uses its tail to avoid branches and steer the glide towards the chosen tree trunk. As the squirrel is landing, it reduces the speed with its body and tail.

What does the nest of Siberian flying squirrels look like?

The flying squirrel female chooses the nest site. It is important that the nest can be imperceptibly exited and returned to for the safety of the squirrels. They preferentially build their nest in holes made by woodpeckers, but they may also nest in birdhouses.

When are baby squirrels born?

The mating season of flying squirrels begins at the end of Mach in Southern Finland. Another mating season is at the end of April. The pregnancy lasts five weeks. The litter usually includes two or three pups which weigh only about five grams when they are born. The mother can conceive again shortly after the first litter is born and it can have two litters during the same summer.

When do the babies leave the nest?

Young flying squirrels start climbing already in the nest. In about a month, they start to explore the world outside the nest. The mother shows how to glide by leaping from a branch. This is done repeatedly. The pup makes its first glide after a few failed attempts. Slowly the practice bears fruit and, in just a few days’ time, the jumps turn into long glides.

What do Siberian flying squirrels eat?

The most important sustenance of flying squirrels are leaves of aspen and alder. In addition, the leaves of birch and ashes are suitable if in need. At the end of the summer, birch catkins are a significant part of their sustenance. Pines are also important sources of food. Flying squirrels eat pine buds, blooms and annual shoots year-round. They adapt themselves according to the environment and availability of food. Flying squirrels use birch and alder catkins and buds of various trees as their sustenance during the winter. They also store them for the winter.

Where is the flying squirrel camera located?

The camera is in Ostrobothnia, Finland.

How was the site for the camera of WWF Wildlive found?

We work together with a nature photographer Benjam Pöntinen, who has knowledge of the habits and habitats of flying squirrels.

Finnish Forest Reindeer

What kind of species is the Finnish forest reindeer?

The Finnish forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) belongs to the species of the Mountain reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) and its semi-domesticated form Northern reindeer as well as caribou of Northern America. In Finland, the Finnish forest reindeer has been important game for thousands of years and it has also had great cultural significance. Finnish forest reindeers disappeared from Finland about a hundred years ago due to excessive hunting. Since then, the species has reappeared in Finland but they are still in danger. It is estimated that there are about 2,000 individuals living in Finland.

Where do Finnish forest reindeers live?

There are about 2,000 Finnish forest reindeers in Finland. The population is about the same size in Russia. These animals are rarely met in other places, so the estimated world population of the Finnish forest reindeer is only about 4,000 individuals.

What are the characteristics of Finnish forest reindeer?

The male (stag) is larger than the female (doe). The stag can weigh up to 200 kilograms, the doe about 100 kilograms. Both the stags and the does have antlers, but the stag’s are distinctly larger. The Finnish forest reindeer and the semi-domesticated reindeer are subspecies of Reindeers (Rangifer tarandus) and it is difficult to tell them apart. The Finnish forest reindeer has longer legs which help it to move around the deep and soft snow, a longer nose which it uses to smell lichens under the snow and thinner antlers which are suited for moving around the forests in the summertime. The Finnish forest reindeer and the semi-domesticated reindeer can mate and reproduce but it is not desirable. From the viewpoint of reindeer farmers, these hybrids are harder to handle than reindeers. On the other hand, it is not desirable to transfer genes of domesticated reindeers to the population of Finnish forest reindeers.

What kind of habitat do the Finnish forest reindeers have?

Finnish forest reindeer changes its habitat according to the cycle of seasons. They can migrate hundreds of kilometres during the spring and autumn to their winter and summer pastures. The Finnish forest reindeer prefers secluded wooded areas for calving for they provide shelter from large predators. The Finnish forest reindeer is not bothered by heavy snow and freezing temperatures. They are adapted to rugged conditions, and the Northern wilderness with its forests and bogs is their natural habitat.

What do the Finnish forest reindeer eat?

The reindeer are herbivores. The Finnish forest reindeer uses various sources of sustenance during the summer and winter. Lichen is its one important source of sustenance.

What threatens the Finnish forest reindeers?

The Finnish forest reindeer is categorised as near threatened or almost endangered. The most significant reason for this is the forest industry: only fragments of the important forest and mire habitats are left. In addition, large carnivores, and especially wolves, thin the population of the Finnish forest reindeers. However, the wolf is not the only one threat to the reindeer population, and they have coexisted in the same area for thousands of years. Increased traffic and cross-breeding with mountain reindeers are also threats to the Finnish forest reindeer.

What does WWF do to protect Finnish forest reindeers?

Finnish forest reindeer is one of the first species that WWF started to protect in Finland. WWF has researched and mapped the habitats of the reindeers, and reintroduced them into new areas. Nowadays WWF works for the protection of the forests and influences the forestry practices. WWF also increases the knowledge of the Finnish forest reindeers by showing their life on WWF Wildlive.

Where is the Finnish forest reindeer camera located?

The WWF Wildlive camera is located in Ostrobothnia, Finland. The camera is located at Lauhanvuori National Park’s on-site reindeer enclosure of 31 hectares from which reindeers are to be reintroduced back to the nature in the future. This on-site enclosure is a part of MetsäpeuraLIFE project in which Finnish forest reindeers are protected by reintroducing them back to their native habitat.

When are the reindeers released?

There are two on-site enclosures. If everything goes according to plan, the first reindeers will be released during 2019. First to be released are young reindeers that have been born in the enclosures and who have imprinted on the environment where they were born.

How many Finnish forest reindeers are there in the enclosure with the camera?

Five does, one stag and one calf that was born in the summer of 2017 in the enclosure. The population is hoped to increase during the spring – hopefully the does are pregnant. As the project continues, additional wild forest reindeer will be brought to the enclosures.

Where are the Finnish forest reindeers in the enclosures from?

The females or does have been selected from Finnish (Korkeasaari Zoo, Ranua Zoo and Ähtäri Zoo) and Swedish (Nordens Ark) zoos in a way that would diversify the genomes as much as possible. Both enclosures include wild reindeers caught in Kuhmo, Eastern Finland.

Why is it necessary to catch wild reindeers in the enclosures?

The majority of the reindeers in the enclosures have been born and raised in zoos. The genome of the reindeers in zoos originates only from eight individuals. The wild individuals are needed for diversifying the genomes of the calves born in the enclosures in the upcoming years. The individuals caught from the wild do not decrease the Finnish forest reindeer population of Finland, on the contrary, they have a very important role in the protection of the species.

Saimaa ringed seal

How many Saimaa ringed seals are there?

According to an assessment by an expert from Metsähallitus (Parks and Wildlife Finland), the size of the Saimaa ringed seal population at the moment is approximately 380 seals. The population refers to the number of wintered seals before the pups are born in February and March. The annual assessment conducted by Metsähallitus is the only comprehensive and scientific assessment based on terrain inventory.

What are the major threats to the Saimaa ringed seal?

In the 20thcentury, the seals were nearly hunted to extinction. Today climate change poses a threat to the species. They need snow to build the lairs where they give birth. These lairs protect their offspring from the cold, predators, and human disturbance. But over the past several years, the snow cover in the region has not been deep enough to create those lairs. The plight of the Lake Saimaa seals denotes a hallmark for what may happen in other parts of the Arctic, as the planet warms. The year 2016 was, for the third consecutive year, the hottest year on record. Fishing nets are also a major threat to the seal. Pups, in particular, can become entangled in fishing nets and drown.

What is WWF doing to protect the seals?

We have been actively protecting the Saimaa ringed seal since 1979. We produce information, work in the field, influence decision-making, work with businesses and conduct environmental education. Active protection work has saved the Saimaa ringed seal population and enabled it to increase its numbers in Saimaa. However, the seals will need protection for a long time to come. Learn more about our work.

Would it not be possible to move the Saimaa ringed seal further north to protect it from climate change?

Relocation was attempted in the 1980s for research purposes to a pond that was unconnected to Lake Saimaa. However, the attempt failed. The major reason for not even considering relocations to other water systems at the moment is that even the population in Saimaa is still too small. To make relocation to another water system even theoretically possible, the relocated population should consist of at least several dozens of seals due to genetic reasons, and such numbers of Saimaa ringed seals are not “up for grabs” anywhere. Instead, relocations within Saimaa may be possible in some cases, as the population is quite scattered in its farthest areas, making it difficult for those seals to find a partner. Such an experiment has been conducted successfully in the past.

Can artificial nests be made for Saimaa ringed seals?

The development of artificial nests is already underway. In 2014, we organised a nest design contest. The ideas are now being tested and developed even further. This development process requires persistent work and funding for the researchers. We are continuously supporting the seal research of the University of Eastern Finland. At the same time, the threat posed by warmer winters is increasing and we must do everything in our power to protect the seal on other fronts. This work is an ongoing effort. One particularly important factor is the reduction of mortality rates caused by fishing equipment.

How large are the seals?

An adult Saimaa ringed seal is about 130–145 cm long and weighs about 50–90 kg.

How long do the seals live?

The Saimaa ringed seal may live as long as 30 years.

What do the seals eat?

The Saimaa ringed seal mostly eats small fish living in shoals, such as vendace.

How fast can the seals swim?

On average, seals swim about 1–2 metres per second, which is quite close to the maximum speed of humans over short distances. The maximum swimming speed of a human can be a little over 2 m/s. The difference is that a seal can swim for a considerably longer time – nearly around the clock, if necessary.

How long can the seals stay underwater?

The seals spend up to 80% of their time underwater. It only comes to the surface to check its surroundings or when rising to the banks to rest. The excellent diving capacity of the seals is enabled by the large oxygen reserves in their blood and muscles and the economical and efficient use of these reserves. The seals have high haemoglobin levels; more than 250g/l. The longest diving times (more than 20 minutes) have been measured from sleeping seals.

How do the seals navigate?

In murky waters, the seals rely on their vision and whiskers that have adapted to the dark.

Osprey

What kind of species is the osprey?

Osprey belongs to the hawk-family and it is a medium-sized bird of prey. In Finland, the osprey is classified as a least concern species. There are an estimated 1,100 breeding pairs of ospreys in Finland. The osprey is brown and black on the upperparts and predominantly white on the underparts.

Where do ospreys live?

The osprey is one of the most widely spread bird species in the world. Ospreys can be found in all parts of Finland. They usually build their nests on top of old trees, sometimes in other high places as well. The osprey uses, for example, moss and lichen to line its nest. The nesting trees of ospreys are protected.

How do ospreys reproduce?

Ospreys mate for life. The female lays one to four eggs between April and May. The female incubates them. The male feeds the female while it incubates.

Where do ospreys spend the winter?

Ospreys that spend their summer in Finland migrate far for they spend the winters mainly in West Africa. In the spring, they return often to the same nests. Fall migration begins in the middle of August and the spring migration in April.

What do ospreys eat?

Ospreys eat mostly fish. After the prey is sighted, the osprey plunges feet first into the water and catches the fish in its talons. The osprey usually hunts in a few kilometer radius from its nest.

Does something threaten the osprey in Finland?

The heavy nest requires a sturdy tree as its base. The osprey is facing a shortage of nesting places, for the number of old forests have decreased due to forestry.

What does WWF do to protect the osprey?

WWF is striving in many ways to further the protection of both the forests as well as the biodiversity in productive wooded areas.

Where is the osprey camera located?

The camera is located at Lake Saimaa, southeastern Finland.

How was the site for the WWF Wildlive camera found?

We work together with a nature photographer Juha Taskinen who has followed the life of osprey younglings for several years.