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The "Proteus Project" in Bosnia and Hercegovina
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   A Unique Opportunity for a Unique Experience for those with a sense of Adventure. 
Would you Like to Become Involved in "Front-line" Protection and Conservation Activities of our precious Karst Biodiversity ?
Volunteers needed for our Summer to Autumn Programme 2017 in the Dinaric Karst.

INTRODUCTION: 
This webpage offers an opportunity to those who may wish to become involved with the "Proteus Project" in Bosnia & Hercegovina in a practical way. It provides you with details about the following related topics :
 1.  The objectives of the "Proteus Project";
 2.  Minimum basic eligibility criteria for participants;
 3.  Your previous relevant practical experience and your interests;
 4.  Where you would be based and how you would travel there from the UK;
 5.  What will be expected of you;
 6.  What equipment you will need to take;
 7.  Your accommodation options & costs when you are there;
 8.  The documentation you will need;
 9.  Projected costs;
10. Recommended duration of visits to the Project;
Then, after serious consideration, if you feel you are ready to "give it a go" ..... 
11.  What to do next ......
12. Dates for Forthcoming "Proteus Project" Field-trips:
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Photo:...Trebinje, Eastern Hercegovina, where the Operational Base for the "Proteus Project" is located.
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DETAILS:

1.  The Objectives of the "Proteus Project" in Bosnia & Hercegovina;

The "Proteus Project's" objective is to protect the critically endangered European Cave Salamander Proteus anguinus anguinus (Laur,1768) from extinction in Bosnia & Hercegovina, through the protection and conservation management of its natural cave habitats. 
Although the enigmatic Proteus is our "focal species", its ultimate protection would also guarantee the future survival of a whole range of associated strange and weird hypogean fauna endemic to Bosnia & Hercegovina or to the Balkans.
Our practical strategy in doing this is set out in three 10-year phases of defined activities. Our partner organizations are the "Green Hills" Speleological Society, based in Trebinje in far south-east Hercegovina and the Hungarian Team "Caudata Hungarian Cave Research Research Group", which is based in Budapest.
We are also working closely with Government Nature Protection Institutes and other official bodies to achieve our ultimate objective.
2.  Minimum basic eligibility criteria for participants;
- Participants must be at least 18 years of age and be reasonably physically fit and 100% psychologically fit;
- Must be legally able to hold a Passport to travel to and through Europe and which does not contain any formal Official travel-restriction endorsements;
- Must be willing and able to devote a minimum of 7 consecutive days to the Project's Field-work programme in Bosnia & Hercegovina;
- Must be 100% tolerant towards the religions and cultures of others;
- The English Language is the main written and spoken language of the Project;
- Does not suffer from travel sickness;
- A completely open mind in wanting to learn more about the wonderful and spectacular natural world of the Dinaric Karst;
- A strong desire to help prevent the extinction of a whole range of critically endangered species.
3.  Your previous relevant practical experience and your interests;
- The Project is multidisciplinary within the applied earth-sciences, but participants are not expected to have a scientific or technical background;
- The Project is taking place in the Classical Dinaric Mountain Karst of Bosnia and Hercegovina and necessarily involves going underground into cave systems.
  Participants are not expected to be either novice or time-served cavers, although some caving experience would be welcomed;
- A general interest in natural history / natural sciences is required, but again, no formal experience or qualifications are necessary;

The current range of professional / academic / skilled and unskilled participants offers the Project a rich mixture of abilities which has so far enabled us to be very successful in working towards our Objective.

4.  Where you would be based and how you would travel there from the UK;
- The operational base for the "Proteus Project" is located in the sub-Meditteranean town of TREBINJE, located in Eastern Hercegovina, in the "Republika Srpska" 
  political Entity of Bosnia & Hercegovina. This is about 20 miles from Dubrovnik (Croatia) and, to the east, is adjacent to the border with Montenegro.
  Our base is located in the centre of this attractive, historical town, close to all necessary services.
  If you are already life-centred on karst and caves - this is the place to be !!
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- Whatever the duration of your visit to Bosnia & Hercegovina, we would suggest you fly from a UK Airport to Dubrovnik in Croatia, the nearest Airport to Trebinje.
  The flight time is about 2 to 2½ hours. 
  Several UK airports provide direct flights to Dubrovnik (eg. Birmingham, Bristol and the London airports.)
- On your arrival, we would transfer you from the Croatian Adriatic Coast up into the mountain karst of Eastern Hercegovina to our base.
- On the day of your return to the UK., we would naturally transfer you down to Dubrovnik Airport in time for your flight.
5.  What will be expected of you;
To willingly participate as a team member in a diverse range of fieldwork / field-studies anywhere within the geographical range of the three river basins pertinent to the  "Proteus Project" in Bosnia & Hercegovina.
We match the field-work to your capabilities & interests, rather than the other way around.  There are more than enough surface and underground activities to occupy everyone, whether skilled or unskilled; young or old.  You will not be asked to do anything you are not happy to do !!
If needed, we will supply all the appropriate training to help you exceed your own expectations. 
The Project regularly visits locations in remote wilderness areas requiring long-duration road travel combined with overland or terrain travel in a Land Rover Defender.
6.  What equipment you will need to take;
This depends on the length of your stay; the time of the year you will be joining us; what you will be doing when you are there and the accommodation option you choose. 
If it is to be your first visit with us, we would supply all specialist equipment, which would otherwise be too expensive to buy until you had decided to make repeat visits in the future. 
Common to everyone are items such as walking / hiking boots; leisure footwear; boot socks; overalls; casual wear; leather belt, knee pads, gloves, 
If you choose not to use our discounted Private Accommodation option (see further below), a sleeping bag is also necessary. A rucksack / large holdall to contain everything is a good idea, rather than using a rigid suitcase, but again, this is optional and is down to personal preference.
7.  Your accommodation options & costs when you are there;
We do not use Hotels nor do we permit the use of Hotels;

OPTION 1.
We can arrange cheap, self-catering Private Accommodation (single or shared), verified by us as being safe & comfortable and operated by persons we know.
This usually costs around 12 Euros per person per day.

OPTION 2.
The basic option is to use our FREE Accommodation in the Caving Club HQ of our local partner group in Trebinje.
However, to contribute towards the cost of electricity + water, we make a discretionary charge of £10 per person per week or part week.
This is dormitory-style accommodation with shared basic utilities and suits most of our regular and non-regular visitors.

8.  The documentation you will need;
- [Obligatory] A valid Passport, which will not expire within 6 months of your planned return date to the UK when you depart Bosnia & Hercegovina;
- [Optional, but wise]  A free-to-obtain European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), giving you many benefits if you should become ill and need medical attention;

- Visas [currently none required];
- Innoculations [none advised and none required];

9.  Projected costs;
Again, this depends on the Accommodation Option you choose, together with the length of your visit and the tiime of year you visit us.

Flights:
- The biggest single cost is the Return Flight from UK - Dubrovnik, Croatia - UK.  This can vary greatly but the norm is around £200.
  To minimize this, we suggest to book the flight as far in advance as possible using the most unsociable / least popular day / hour to travel.
  There are many good Flight-cost comparison Websites to use. Last minute bookings can reduce a one-way flight to as low as £60 but you need to make sure you 
  will arrive and depart on the days you have planned.
  We do not become involved in booking air travel.

"Proteus Project" Daily Travel: 
- You will be using the Project's Long-Wheelbase Land Rover Defender in which to undertake all Project-related travel.  This is a TD5 manufactured in 2006.
- We cost this at £11 per person per day towards fuel & Insurance and maintenance, although fuel takes up most of this contribution.
  The cost is not shared out equally amongst the travellers at any given time, insofar as the vehicle uses more fuel the more passengers / luggage that are loaded into it.
  The fee is payable in cash on arrival at our Base in Trebinje and includes all your Flight Transfers to and from the Airport and all Road Tolls / Taxes during your stay.

Living Costs:
Again, this depends on the length of your visit with us. HOWEVER, as if to offset some of the expenses detailed above, we are happy to inform you that food and drink are exceptionally cheap in Bosnia & Hercegovina. We give an estimate that you can live well for £11 per person per day
It is so cheap to live there that we rarely prepare our own meals and usually eat in restaurants for breakfast & evening meals. You do retain the option of preparing your own food.

10. Recommended duration of visits to the Project;
- For 1st time visitors, we strongly suggest a practical minimum of 7 days (including flights) to a maximum of 10 days.
- Thereafter, visits of 14-days or more can be contemplated.
- We suggest a maximum period of 1 month for those more regular team members, who have the available time and funding.

- For practical purposes, the 7-days minimum duration applies to all visitors. This equates in reality to only 6 days engaged in the Project. 
  Any less than this would be impractical for the participant.

11.  What to do next ......
If you are interested in receiving more detailed information suitable to your situation, please contact us using our e-mail address :
karstcentral@netscape.net

We offer standard illustrated briefings and presentations in Plymouth to cover all issues raised by prospective participants.

12. Dates for Forthcoming "Proteus Project" Field-trips:
We are currently offering briefings to prospective participants up until 26 February 2017 for participation in the "Proteus Project's" Summer / Autumn Programme, August through to October 2017.
The briefings will then resume from 01 May until 31 July, (inclusive).
If you wish to arrange for an informal briefing, why not contact us by e-mail to arrange a convenient appointment.  Although there is a 2-month break (March & April), you can still contact us by e-mail during that period.


We also welcome the involvement of amateur & professional speleobiologists, cave surveyors and cartographers, geologists and karst hydrogeologists and hydrologists, who may wish to engage as volunteers with our Project on a medium-to-long-term basis.
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