Article

OTTER SURVEY ON LIKA RIVER IN CROATIA

Otter survey on Lika river is part of the Green Belt Velebit Project - a joint Green Action and WWF initiative for the long-term conservation and rural development of the large karst landscape system comprising the river basins of Lika, Gacka and Krbava, the Velebit mountain range and the sea channel where the system’s underground streams re-emerge.
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Otter survey on Lika river is part of the Green Belt Velebit Project - a joint Green Action and WWF initiative for the long-term conservation and rural development of the large karst landscape system comprising the river basins of Lika, Gacka and Krbava, the Velebit mountain range and the sea channel where the system’s underground streams re-emerge. The goal of the Project is to achieve long-term management of the natural and cultural resources of the Velebit region, through the establishment of an effective network of areas and natural corridors which are crucial to the conservation of biodiversity and by supporting social, economic and cultural activities that can lead to the sustainable development of this region.

vidrelika001.jpgOne of the goals of the GBV Project is to conserve priority animal and plant species that are included in the Green Belt Velebit Action Plan formerly developed as part of the GBV Project in collaboration with relevant experts. Otters are recognized as one of GBV priority species and in order to improve their protection we would like to develop and implement an Otter Action Plan.  We have also chosen otter as a species for this research because in the last few decades there was no systematic monitoring of the otters in Croatia and only some information about the otter presence at the particular rivers are available.

According to Red Data Book of the Republic of Croatia otter (Lutra lutra, Linnaeus, 1785) is in category DD or Data Deficient, which means lack of sufficient data required to assess the risk of extinction (population status and distribution). The Eurasian otter is protected in Croatia and by the Croatian Law for Nature Protection (1994) penalty for hunting, killing or injuring the otter is 30.000,00 HRK (about 4.000 €).

In Europe over the last century, but particularly during the last decades, otters have undergone a major decline throughout their range, and the species is now rare or absent from a number of countries.

Otter is also protected under a number of international legal and conservation statutes, including the Bern Convention (Appendix II), The European Union Habitats and Species Directive (Annex II and Annex IV), The Washington convention - CITES (Appendix I) - which bans international trade in protected species, and European Council Directive 338/97 (Annex A).     

vidrelika002.jpgDue to the lack of recent scientific data on otters in GBV area (with exception of Zrmanja River) otters were seen as extinct from Lika River area, but local inhabitants (mainly fisherman) were often reporting their presence during last decade. This has motivated us to make a survey camp and lecture in period 4-10 September 2005 in the village Donji Kosinj in Lika valley in order to scientifically confirm otter presence in Lika river and to educate local inhabitants and nature lovers how to recognize and determin otter presence. This way they would be able to continue with the monitoring of otter population in this area and collect valuble data that could further be used as base for new scientific researches and for improvement of otter protection.
On the lecture and during the survey we had an expert guidance from Mrs. Marcela Roche (Czech Otter Foundation Fund) and Mrs. Milena Sijan (Croatian otter expert). We had also received valuable help from Association of Students of Biology (BIUS) from Faculty of Science and from students and experts from Veterinarian Faculty. Local NGO “Eko-Kosinj” gave us logistic support in camp organizing.

We were very pleased when we have found otter tracks in the whole Lika river area and thus concluded that otter indeed lives in Lika River Basin. Now we have further plans for short autumn surveys of Gacka and Una Rivers in the Green Belt Velebit region.

For more information please contact:

Irma Popovic
Green Action
Tel: ++385 1 4818 480
Fax: ++385 1 4813 096
irma@zelena-akcija.hr


Author: Green Action

12.11.05. 22:15