Where to see Croatia's wildlife

Aaron Ogles / 09 April 2016

Leave the sun-blessed shores of the Dalmatian Coast behind and discover ‘wild Croatia’, a surprising world of natural diversity and a snapshot of the Europe that was…



Hiding behind images of pristine rocky shores, forested isles, an azure sea, Venetian-style towns and historic walled cities so often associated with Croatia, there is a secret world that’s home to some of most diverse wildlife in Europe. Here’s just a taste of what the country has to offer…

Brown bear

Croatia has one of the highest populations of the Eurasian brown bear in Europe, which is impressive considering the species is almost extinct in the western continent. Unfortunately these fuzzy, ferocious animals are frequently hunted for sport, although the practice is closely monitored and it’s only legal at certain times of the year.

Did you know? An image of the brown bear is featured on the reverse side of the five-kuna coin.

Wolf

Croatia’s mountains and dense forests provide the perfect habitat for wolves to thrive. They were exterminated from most parts of Europe in the 19th century, although conservation efforts have helped the species to recover, and now Croatia and the Balkans boast some of the biggest populations.

Did you know? Most of the time, when a wolf finds a mate they stay together for life.

Lynx

Croatia’s big cat, the Eurasian lynx, is the largest species of lynx in the world and, much like the wolf, was once very common throughout Europe. After the species was reintroduced to Slovenia, they began to colonise parts of Croatia. A number of mating pairs set up home in Plitvice Lakes National Park, probably to take advantage of the picturesque views!

Did you know? A lynx can spot a mouse from 250 feet away.

Great bittern

This fluffy wader stalks Croatia’s wetlands in search of prey, and can often be found frequenting the waters of the River Norin, which it shares with a glorious variety of fish and birdlife. Despite its speckled feathers, the bittern has a number of unfortunate nicknames, including bog-trotter and mire-drum.

Did you know? The great bittern’s mating call, known as booming, can be heard up to three miles away.

Adriatic dolphin

There are 1,144 islands dotting Croatia’s coast and the channels and lagoons between them are ideal dolphin-spotting territory. The dolphins here are a bit smaller than the common dolphin, but no less playful!

Did you know? Dolphins can leap up to 20 feet into the air.

Olm

Otherwise known as the proteus, this squirm-inducing little monster is Europe’s only cave-dwelling vertebrate. Croatia is one of the only countries in the world where it can be found. It makes its home in the underground lakes and rivers of the country’s honeycomb limestone caves.

Did you know? In place of eyelids, olms have a layer of skin covering their eyes, which are barely sensitive to light.

 

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