Large Carnivore Research

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We spoke with one of our guides who is one of the top experts and researchers of large carnivores in Croatia. Here is the interview with him..

Where did you get the idea to study large carnivores in Croatia?

Idea of studying large carnivores came to me at a very young age. As I was growing up with wildlife documentaries, I had a curious little researcher growing inside me and got my opportunity on the first year of study on Veterinary faculty in Zagreb where I was given a chance to get involved in large carnivore research with world-known professor Huber. Many years have passed since then and I got really a lot of practical experience in research that I am more than willing to share with people that would like that experience. 

How do you cope with dangerous situations?

First of all I would ask the question: “What dangerous situations?”. In every contact with large carnivores I tend to minimize the dangers and avoid them, primarily thanks to thorough recognition of their behaviour. That way, risks of large carnivore attack are minimal. The closest contacts are usually with bears, but when we exclude all misunderstandings, they are very pleasant. 

Can you describe your experiences with tourists in watching large carnivores?

Untill now, I had only one pair of Americans with me out in the field. Because of small densities, nocturnal activity and their wariness it is very hard to observe large carnivores, but the effort to observe them is an adventure on its own. Most importantly – it’s very important that tourists are aware of the fact that they’re dealing with wild animals, that there’s no script for the trip – there are only situations from which we will try to get the most of – without risk for humans and without disturbance of wildlife. People that have already observed wildlife elsewhere in the world are usually aware of unpredictability in large carnivore observations and they highly value every given opportunity. 

What message would you like to give out to our future clients – what can they experience with you on such a trip?

Key message – it is not possible even to assume all the possible scenarios. But, what I can guarantee is that I will give them my best experiences in large carnivores and to use it to the max during the trip. Close encounters with large carnivores like wild brown bears are very likely, of course, keeping in mind client safety in the first place. 


VEDRAN’S BIO

I was born in 1984 in Croatia. I finished study on Faculty of Veterinary medicine on Zagreb University in 2009. I’ve started volunteering on large carnivore research as a student in 2003, and started working on DinaRis project as a field researcher in 2007. Since then, I was constantly active in field research of large carnivores, primarily conducting capture, chemical immobilization, sampling and radio-tracking, but also practicing non-invasive methods of research like camera-trapping, collecting non-invasive samples and detecting hidden signs of large carnivore presence. I currently work on Department of Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation on Karlovac University of Applied Sciences where I lecture students about wildlife ecology, manipulation and non-invasive research. I also work on LIFE Lynx project dedicated to saving lynx population in Croatia and Slovenia. 

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