- Stories > Feature Stories > The Hamsters of Alsace (92) More files...
In pockets of low-lying farmland in France, a small rodent is the subject of much controversy, stirring up tensions between politicians, farmers and conservationists.

The rodent in question is the Black-bellied hamster. Previously considered a pest, this species has been formally protected by ministerial decree since 1996, along with the wolf, bear and lynx.
Yet, despite this protection the species has been in steep decline since 2010, and the disappearance of this little known species would have a dramatic impact on the structure of the local ecosystem.

Download our full story PDF, including text, here.

Portrait of a common hamster (Cricetus cricetus)  Alsace, France, April, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Portrait of a common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) Alsace, France, April, captive
Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing, Alsace, France, captive
Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing on hind legs, Alsace, France, April, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing on hind legs, Alsace, France, April, captive
Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing on hind legs, Alsace, France, May, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing on hind legs, Alsace, France, May, captive
Common hamster feeding (Cricetus cricetus)  Alsace, France, April, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster feeding (Cricetus cricetus) Alsace, France, April, captive
Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in a burrow Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in a burrow Alsace, France, captive
Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in its burrow,  Alsace, France, April, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in its burrow, Alsace, France, April, captive
Portrait of a common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) captive, Alsace, France, April.  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Portrait of a common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) captive, Alsace, France, April.
Burow of the common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field, Alsace, France, May 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Burow of the common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field, Alsace, France, May 2013
Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) foraging in a field,  Alsace, France, April, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) foraging in a field, Alsace, France, April, captive
Farmer working in a maize field with a vibro-cultivator. Modern agricultural practices have a detrimental effect on populations of Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenh...  -  Eric Baccega,Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega,Eric Baccega / Farmer working in a maize field with a vibro-cultivator. Modern agricultural practices have a detrimental effect on populations of Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenh...
Alfalfa or lucerne field (Medicago sativa), afavorite habitat of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), Alsace, France, May 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Alfalfa or lucerne field (Medicago sativa), afavorite habitat of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), Alsace, France, May 2013
Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), foraging in a field, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), foraging in a field, Alsace, France, captive
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper catching   Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, in captive breeding program. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper catching Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, in captive breeding program. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper catching a Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with a strainer, during the breeding season,  Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildli...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper catching a Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with a strainer, during the breeding season, Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildli...
Keeper feeding common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in the breeding center of the association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace', Elsenheim, Alsace, France, April  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Keeper feeding common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in the breeding center of the association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace', Elsenheim, Alsace, France, April
Jean Paul Burget, President of the French association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Wildlife Conservation of Alsace) in his breeding center for common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), Elsenheim, Al...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Jean Paul Burget, President of the French association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Wildlife Conservation of Alsace) in his breeding center for common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), Elsenheim, Al...
Celine Boulade, carrying Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in sieves during the breeding season, captive, Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildlife of Alsace) Breeding...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, carrying Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in sieves during the breeding season, captive, Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildlife of Alsace) Breeding...
Couple of common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) smelling each other during breeding season at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Wildlife Conservation of Alsace) breeding center, capti...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Couple of common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) smelling each other during breeding season at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Wildlife Conservation of Alsace) breeding center, capti...
Couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) interacting during breeding season in a captive breeding program, at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildlife of Alsace...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) interacting during breeding season in a captive breeding program, at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildlife of Alsace...
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper looking after a couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, releasing on from cage into a neutral area. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper looking after a couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, releasing on from cage into a neutral area. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune...
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper introducing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, into a neutral enclosure. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper introducing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, into a neutral enclosure. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper introducing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, into a neutral enclosure. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper introducing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, into a neutral enclosure. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper introducing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, into a neutral enclosure. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper introducing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) during the breeding season, into a neutral enclosure. Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving...
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper looking after a couple of Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) which are standing alert, during breeding season, Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (P...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper looking after a couple of Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) which are standing alert, during breeding season, Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (P...
Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper looking after a male and female Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) as they interact during the breeding season, Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (P...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Celine Boulade, ethologist and keeper looking after a male and female Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) as they interact during the breeding season, Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (P...
Couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing on hind legs during breeding season at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Wildlife Conservation of Alsace) breeding center, capt...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) standing on hind legs during breeding season at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Wildlife Conservation of Alsace) breeding center, capt...
Couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) mating at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildlife of Alsace) breeding center, Alsace, France, April 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Couple of common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) mating at the Association 'Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage d'Alsace' (Preserving the wildlife of Alsace) breeding center, Alsace, France, April 2013
Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive.  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive.
Female Black-bellied hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, aged 2 days, Alsace, France, June 2013. Captive.  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Female Black-bellied hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, aged 2 days, Alsace, France, June 2013. Captive.
Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive
Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive
Newborn common hamster babies (Cricetus cricetus) age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Newborn common hamster babies (Cricetus cricetus) age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive
Newborn common hamster babies (Cricetus cricetus) age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Newborn common hamster babies (Cricetus cricetus) age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive
Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 2 days, Alsace, France, captive
Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 5 days, Alsace, France, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Female common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) with her newborn babies, age 5 days, Alsace, France, captive
Newborn Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) babies, aged 5 days, Alsace, France, June 2013, captive  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Newborn Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) babies, aged 5 days, Alsace, France, June 2013, captive
Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus) ready for release in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus) ready for release in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013
Martin Klipfel, mayor of Grussenheim and Jean-Paul Burget from Sauvergarde Faune sauvage / Save the Wildlife Association,  talking about releasing of Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus).  Grussenheim,...  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Martin Klipfel, mayor of Grussenheim and Jean-Paul Burget from Sauvergarde Faune sauvage / Save the Wildlife Association, talking about releasing of Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus). Grussenheim,...
Scientists from the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) with cages of Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) for release in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013.  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists from the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) with cages of Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) for release in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013.
Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) with caged Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) for release, in a wheat field.  Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) with caged Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) for release, in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013
Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) with cages of Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field for release, Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) with cages of Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field for release, Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013
Scientists of the ONCFS with Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) ready for release in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013 Model released.  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists of the ONCFS with Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) ready for release in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013 Model released.
Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) releasing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field.  Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) releasing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013
Scientists from the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) releasing Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013.  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists from the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) releasing Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013.
Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) helped by young boy, releasing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field.  Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists from the French Wildlife Department (ONCFS) helped by young boy, releasing Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013
Scientist helped by young boy, with Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) for release in a wheat field.  Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientist helped by young boy, with Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) for release in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013
Scientists from the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) releasing Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013.  -  Eric Baccega
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Eric Baccega / Scientists from the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) releasing Black-bellied hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) in a wheat field. Grussenheim, Alsace, France, June 2013.
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