Camera traps reveal presence of rare Balkan Lynx in Albanian Alps

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 15, 2017 11:58

Camera traps reveal presence of rare Balkan Lynx in Albanian Alps

Story Highlights

  • Monitoring through camera traps at the Nikaj-Merturi regional nature park in northeastern Albania bordering Kosovo has captured pictures of the Balkan Lynx, a critically endangered species which has also been previously traced in the Munella Mountain in the district of Puka and Mirdita, northern Albania

Related Articles

Brown bear in northeastern Albania. Picture: PPNEA

Brown bear in northeastern Albania. Picture: PPNEA

TIRANA, Nov. 15 – Camera traps have revealed the presence of the Balkan Lynx which experts have dubbed the ‘jewel of Albanian forests’ in the northern Albanian Alps and several other endangered species, a watchdog says.

Monitoring through camera traps at the Nikaj-Merturi regional nature park in northeastern Albania bordering Kosovo has captured pictures of the Balkan Lynx, a critically endangered species which has also been previously traced in the Munella Mountain in the district of Puka and Mirdita, northern Albania.

The Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania, PPNEA, has earlier warned illegal logging in the Munella Mountain, northeastern Albania, the country’s sole sanctuary of the Balkan lynx, is further putting at risk one of the most threatened wildlife species in serious danger of extinction.

The Balkan lynx is a critically endangered species, with only about 40 or 50 individuals reported to exist in total. About 5 or 6 of these have been reported to live in the Munella Mountain in the district of Puka and Mirdita.

Back in 2015, the Balkan lynx was listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, Red List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered.

“This is the second evidence that we have for this species in Albanian Alps, after the photography received three years ago by a local guide in Thethi. In addition, the cameras also photographed other important species for the area, such as, chamois, wolf, wild cat, badger, and fox,” the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania watchdog said in a statement.

The brown bear, the wild boar, the roe deer and the red fox are some of the other endangered species pictured through camera taps at the Nikaj-Mertur valley in the Albanian Alps.

Proclaimed a regional nature park in 2014, Nikaj-Mertur is becoming a rapidly growing mountain tourism destination along the Valbona River Valley in Tropoja, attracting thousands of tourists in its spectacular landscapes and characteristic guesthouses.

Back in 2013, camera traps at Albania’s Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park, eastern Albania close to the border with Macedonia, spotted the presence of a brown bear, a wolf, a red fox, badgers, a wild cat, a European hare and a wild boar, revealing the park’s spectacular wildlife.

Camera trapping is a technique that has been used worldwide in recent years for research and recording of wildlife presence. Its main advantages are minimal disturbance of wildlife and the possibility to confirm and prove the presence of particular species in the area, says Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature which conducted the monitoring at the Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park four years ago.

At the same time, camera trapping makes it possible to determine behaviour and activity patterns of animals. In some cases this technique can also provide quantitative information on the population of various species.

Animal rights activists have recently submitted more than 37,000 signatures in a petition addressed to MPs seeking to make animal cruelty punishable by fines and even imprisonment by amending the country’s Criminal Code.

Watchdogs say wild animal cruelty continues despite a hunting moratorium in place to protect Albania’s declining endangered fauna species.

Brown hares and bears being killed and advertised as trophies on social networks or endangered species such as the Balkan Lynx kept embalmed at restaurant bars in addition to caged bear cubs held in captivity are some of the cases the PPNEA watchdog has identified on its dedicated portal serving as a hotline to report cases of abuse.

Albania has banned hunting for the past couple of years and imposed a new five-year moratorium to put an end to uncontrolled and illegal hunting, which has decimated wildlife populations in the country over the last two and a half decades after the collapse of the communist regime in the early 1990s.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 15, 2017 11:58