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Brown Bear – Story About Saving the Nature
The story about saving brown bear from extinction can easily be the story about saving the nature in general, at least in the form it exists today. Today, nature is rapidly changing due to climate change and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. If this trend continues, we might be showing our children pictures on smartphones of the world as it once was, before we destroyed it.They would see pictures of what used to be the biggest animal in Europe, brown bear (Ursus arctos). We would tell them stories how the brown bear used to be essential for preserving bio diversity and was at the top of the food chain, with only one enemy who was so fierce and powerful that he finally brought it to extinction. That enemy was man.
But if we do not want this scenario to materialize, thanks to nature’s incredible ability to regenerate, we are still on time to save nature that we have today. Including the brown bear, which due to human devastation was at the verge of extinction in the last century, although it once used to live all across Eurasia and North America. But, what gives us hope is that it managed to survive in certain parts of the Old Continent, despite uncontrolled hunting and systematic devastation of its natural habitat.
The importance of Dinarides
Apart from Scandinavia and the Carpathian mountains, the region of Dinarides is of the rare parts of Europe where brown bear managed to survive. And that is not all. At the end of the last century, families of brown bear were brought from Slovenia and Croatia to Italy, Austria and Portugal, which is the reason why today this precious species exists in the Alps and the Pyrenees, where it used to close to extinction. Important advantage of Dinaric bear, which makes it different from those living in Scandinavia and the Carpathian mountains, is its genetic predisposition to adapt and survive in other parts of Europe, which proved to be crucial for the survival of the species in the rest of Europe.
The WWF project “Protected regions for nature and people,” which aims at tracking and protecting brown bear in Montenegro and Serbia, is an example of how we should take care about protected species. A team of experts, led by Mr. Duškom Ćirović, professor at Faculty of Biology in Belgrade, is implementing this project in the National Park Tara in Serbia. Only this year, the team has marked nine bears. GPS necklaces that are places around the bears’ necks allow for tracking their movements. “In course of the next three years, we expect that the necklaces will send more than 40.000 precise locations (coordinates), which will enable us to follow the bears in real time and thereby to have better knowledge about their needs and threated that this protected species is facing,” explains professor Ćirović.
In addition, camera traps have been set up in order to gather information how many animals and how frequently they come to collect food.
The main threat to brown bears in illegal hunting. Recently a female bear was found severely wounded by a metal trap in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She managed to set free and to make her way to the National Part Tara in Serbia where professor Ćirović tracked her and provided medical help. Once the wounds were healed, a GPS necklace was placed about the bear’s neck and she was released back to nature.
Good practices from the National Park Tara will be also used in Montenegro, in the National Park Biogradska gora, to continue observing the movement of these animals and to eventually establish ecological corridors in the Western Balkans.
Truth about Bears
Despite its enormous size, its strong teeth and short digestive system typical of carnivorous, 90% of bear’s diet is in fact made up of plants. Although often we hear exaggerated stories about gigantic size of these animals, a bear rarely exceeds 150 cm in height, while its normal weight falls between 100-150 kg, and only in exceptional cases reaches up to 300 kg.
You might have seen bear trophy heads and heard stories about “brave” hunters who killed animals as a hobby. But the truth is that bears in the woods run away from humans, which thanks to its remarkable senses, they can smell from great distance. The only instance when a bear, usually a mother bear, might become aggressive is when the life of its little ones is under threat and she has to protect them. That much how bears are dangerous for humans!
When human beings realize they only have one natural enemy – and that is themselves – they will have to make an effort to save the nature that surrounds them. If not, we will come to a point from the beginning of this story – when we will be able to see brown bears only in photos.
Ljubiša Pejović, Parks Dinarides