Tourism for Conservation – the Balkans Bear Story

Through the Western Balkans Geotourism Network of responsible local businesses, (the ones which value culture, nature and local communities), and with the support of USAID (REG) program, National Parks in Europe’s wildest corner are creating new conservation experiences for visitors.

Guests will responsible for setting and monitoring camera traps.

Starting at the end of this year, visitors will be able to join in the conservation work undertaken by Park Rangers in Macedonia and Serbia. Tracking, setting of camera traps, park rehabilitation work and stocking of the feeding stations are just some of the activities which help to preserve Europe’s last truly wild populations of: Bear, Lynx, Wolf, Wild Boar, Horse and Deer. This vital work goes on year round and dependent upon the season guests will travel to work on skis, (with some Nordic skiing instruction) or snowshoes, by mountain bike or by boat (another partner in the program is the Hydro-biology Institute on the beautiful Lake Ohrid).

Tara NP – Serbia

The work undertaken by guests will be a crucial contribution to the parks, as will be the large percentage of the tour price which goes directly into nature protection and study programs. The first guests will even help to create the infrastructure for future visitors. So build the first Bear viewing hides alongside local volunteers and be the first to sit in watch for the animals!

Food for the bears donated by local farmers (they died of natural causes)

The Parks involved are Tara in Serbia, Mavrovo and Pelister in Macedonia (Macedonia has the highest bio-diversity in Europe!). All have large areas of primary forest, and provide a home to all of Europe’s Big 5 Land Mammals. (The region also has Dolphins … in the Adriatic). Within these 3 small to medium size parks live at least 300 Bears, at least in the parks they can be safe. These are wild animals and not fenced into the protected areas, many wander freely across the borders and roam throughout the Western Balkans and Dinaric Alps.

Camera Trap footage …its not just about the Bears…

So look out for more new in the next couple of months! Just now we are preparing the activities, sourcing equipment and starting to spread the word among communities and conservations groups/NGO/NVOs in the region.

In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the program – you can contact me on: jack@travelconsult.me or our local tour partner in Macedonia Gorki Balojani on: gorki.balojani@balojani.com.m

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One thought on “Tourism for Conservation – the Balkans Bear Story

  1. All this is so exciting! Awesome job! I hope more and more people start looking for those type of experiences around the Balkans!

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