Newt has a new home

Two habitats for the survival of newts reconstructed.

October 27, 2023


The Nature Monument Prokoško Lake, which is located on the Vranica mountain and one of the most beautiful and well-known protected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is faced with everyday negligence that poses the biodiversity of this area under significant threat.

The unplanned fish stocking of Prokoško Lake led to a gradual decrease in the population of the Bosnian alpine newt in the lake. Once a large population has been gradually reduced to small and isolated populations with individuals forced to survive inside small water bodies.

In order to protect this endangered species on the territory of the Prokoško Lake Nature Monument, the UNDP project "Sustainability of Protected Areas - SPA", financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), launched activities to improve their condition and habitat, in partnership with the management of NM Prokoško Lake - JKP "Šćona" d.o.o. Fojnica and the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Stable populations of the Bosnian alpine newt were found in two ponds near the lake. To create the necessary conditions for the survival of this endemic newt species, ponds were deepened, their surface area increased, coastal vegetation was rehabilitated, and winter shelters (hibernaculum) were formed.

Abaz Nišić, director of JKP Šćona d.o.o. Fojnica, manager of the Nature Monument Prokoško Lake, states that "The realized works have enormous importance and a positive effect on the stability of the population of this species, but also on the local population." The abundance of this species has been declining since the 70s of the last century, when the stocking of the lake began. As a child of this region, and on behalf of my fellow citizens, I can express great satisfaction and joy that activities that will stabilize the population of the Bosnian alpine newt have been initiated on the territory of the Nature Monument Prokoško Lake."

"Recently, JKP "Šćona" d.o.o. worked intensively on the construction of the sewage system, and the continuation of activities is planned in order to ensure the complete restoration of the lake, and thus ensure the return of this species to the Lake itself. As the manager of this protected area, I have to point out that we jointly planned and implemented the entire process of protecting the Bosnian alpine newt. Next year, we plan to continue our activities, with a focus on education and information of both youth and adult citizens," said Nišić.

The construction and protection of these habitats enabled the survival of this critically endangered species. During preliminary research, a certain number of male and female individuals were transferred to the premises of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure ex-situ regeneration of the population. The necessary laboratory equipment for ex-situ regeneration of the population was donated by SPA project. 

Mirsad Sijarić, the director of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the following: "The implemented activities represent the beginning of the activities of the National Museum on the promotion and active protection of endemic species in Bosnia and Herzegovina." On the day of celebration of the birthday of the National Museum, in February 2024, we plan to organize an exhibition of amphibians and reptiles from BiH. The Bosnian alpine newt will be in focus of this exhibition, and the model and habitat of the species will be presented and displayed."

"The Bosnian alpine newt is an extremely important species for the biodiversity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, about which we know very little, and which is threatened with extinction. This type of in situ protection, along with ex situ protection measures, which were undertaken by the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina through the support of the SPA project, represents a good path and an example to be followed by other managers of protected areas and researchers," explains Zineta Mujaković, Head of the Department for Conservation of Nature, Biological and Landscape Diversity at the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and adds that the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism has initiated activities on the inventory of species and habitats in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that this approach represents a good example for ensuring quality data on the status and vitality of populations.

The activities are carried out within the project "Sustainability of protected areas - SPA", implemented by the United Nations Development Programme together with partner institutions, and financed by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF). The main goal of this five-year project is to ensure a better status of biodiversity through strengthening resilience to climate change and achieving financial sustainability of protected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina.