Croatian Wildlife Update
In just over a month we will be back out in Croatia on our Wildlife Watching and Tracking Course, over the last few years we have built up a fantastic working relationship with the Risnjak National Park rangers and staff. On all of our overseas trips we have always been keen to put something back into the local community and in Croatia that means working with the park authorities to both assist them in their work especially where this involves monitoring the wildlife.
As well as being home to lynx, brown bear, wolf, wildcat, wild boar etc., this area is a European stronghold for owls with potentially as many as 10 of the 13 European species being found in the area. On our tracking course we have seen European Eagle Owl and Pygmy Owl (the largest and smallest species), have found and analysed pellets from Eagle Owl and Barn Owl. We also utilise play back and monitoring of owl calls, and have had responses from 5 species including Ural, Tawny, Pygmy, Tengmalms, and European Eagle Owl.
This year we have teamed up with the UK based world renowned owl conservation organisation, the World Owl Trust, to help the park apply for an EU grant to set up owl nest boxes with CCTV in them to allow visitors to see these otherwise elusive birds on screens in the visitor centre. The World Owl Trust and ourselves are also providing them with images and information for displays and leaflets, and are helping develop a research project for a zoology student to undertake a full scientific study of the population densities of the owl species in the area.
Two years ago we donated a trail camera to the park rangers to assist them in monitoring the different mammal species and last year we posted some stunning videos of Red Deer Stags taken in Risnjak National Park, Croatia. Whilst I was out there in October, I helped one of the park rangers re-locate the camera to a remote spot on the side of the summit of Mount Risnjak to monitor the Chamois. These small, elusive wild goats are found in remote, mountainous areas and traditionally the only way for the park rangers to observe them was to climb to a vantage point on the mountain and sit for hours observing the salt licks placed there for the Chamois. Now with the trail camera they can do this remotely saving them enormous amounts of time and effort, as I can testify, as you needed to be a mountain goat just to get the camera set up!!
The exact number of Chamois at Risnjak is unknown but is thought to be under 10 animals and has been in decline for a number of years. Risnjak is geographically isolated from other Chamois herds and it is thought that there has been no exchange of animals and hence fresh blood for many years and that the population is suffering from something known as inbreeding depression. The park are hoping to remedy this by importing new animals from Italy, but there is an enormous amount of red tape to get through before that can happen. With the camera they can at least get clear enough images of individual animals to identify them and also get an accurate estimate of numbers.
Miro had very kindly shared some of the videos captured by the camera, so we hope you enjoy watching these amazing images of not only the Chamois but the stunning views from the top of Mount Risnjak.
We would like to thank Miro and all the Risnjak National Park team for sharing these images with us as well as the World Owl Trust for partnering with us to assist the park.
The next destination for the camera is on deer carcasses to capture video of wolf and lynx…………………….we cant wait!!