"Centar za Spasavanje Čovječje
Barlangi Vakgőte Obszervatórium"
"Barlangi Vakgőte Menhely"
Trebinje Proteus Observatorium :
initial "trial operations" began in February / March 2016 and were resumed
again in September / October 2016 to enable us to test our underwater camera
positionings and all associated equipment. These trials were successful
but were not open to the public.
the summer of 2018, we will advertise which "trial operations", will then
be available for local people in the Trebinje urban and rural areas to
be able to go to see the first glimpses of certain aspects of their natural
karst underground heritage, about which the whole world marvels.
remember that we are setting up this facility over the next few years and
it will take time before this work is anywhere near fully complete and
ready for use.
programmed target date for completion is August 2021.
people in the Trebinje Region will have the advantage of being the first
to receive any news of developments or to experience the results of such
: Proteus anguinus.at
rest in its natural habitat, Trebinje, RS-BiH.
September 2013., the Media in Trebinje were quick to pick up on rumours
of this development and the "Proteus Project" Co-ordinator Groups gave
a radio / television interview about the plans for this facility.
October 2016, the "Proteus Project's" Director issued a general Press Release
in Trebinje about the Proteus Observatorium
and the Proteus Rescue Centre,
to which many of the local and regional Press and Media responded.
from giving TV and Radio interviews, which were broadcast during peak viewing
times on RTRS., Radio Trebinje and Herceg Televisija, we had remarkably
good coverage in many Newspapers and Internet Portals across Bosnia &
Hercegovina during October 2016, with the emphasis on the Proteus
Rescue and Care Facility.
advertised events in the future will include multi-media presentations
about Proteus anguinus
and its associated species, together with
progress reports about the "Proteus Project" itself.
Lerner, September 2013.)
: Proteus anguinus.at
rest in its natural habitat, Trebinje, RS-BiH.
Gergely, September 2009.)
Trebinje Proteus Rescue & Care Centre :
became operational as of October 2015, at which time it received its first
live, stray, un-injured Proteus for re-homing. The stray Proteus
had become washed out of its natural habitat in the Donje Police urban
district of Trebinje by the force of strong underground flood-water, during
the October storms. It could not be placed back into the underground
location from where it came.
February 2016, the Proteus Rescue Centre
was able to receive injured stray Proteus specimens for quarantined
care and recovery, before being released into the natural hypogean habitat
in the Proteus Observatorium.
individuals undergoing quarantined care are monitored by infra-red camera
and can be seen by any visitors at the entrance to the Proteus Observatorium
by means of relayed TV signal. Again, it will be advertised locally
when such events are made available for the general public to visit.
Rescue & Care Centre is now able to offer
a Veterinary (Chemotherapeutic) Service to all injured and uninjured stray
to handle a delicate and critically endangered hypogean animal !!
stray Proteus found by local people to be floundering in the Trebišnjica
River near Aleksina Medja, Trebinje, on 05 February, 2009.
: Bogdan Prelević.)
WE MISSED THIS ONE !!
perfectly formed baby Proteus, just a few days old, was forced out
onto the karst surface from the mouth of a periodically-active estavelle.
The estavelle in its "spring" or "vrelo" mode creates a river. This
young Proteus probably had neither the strength nor had developed
a natural instinct to fight against the
It was found by a passing "Proteus Project" team member, dead in a pool
of water just a few metres from the mouth of the estavelle (see image below),
on 10 February 2018.
društvo "Zelena Brda" - Trebinje, RS-BiH
Devon Karst Research Society, Plymouth, UK.
Hungarian Cave Research Group, Budapest, Hungary.
"The Proteus Project in the
Trebišnjica River Basin."
Joint Strategy for the Protection of the Endangered Underground Endem Proteus
anguinus and its Natural Karst Habitat in the Trebišnjica River Basin",
Hercegovina i Hercegovačko Priobalja, Bosna i Hercegovina;
i Dubrovačko Priobalja i Konavle, Hrvatska;
Hercegovina, Crna Gora.
Trebinje Proteus Observatorium
Rescue & Care Centre
a Rescue &
Care Facility for Stray Damaged and Undamaged Proteus Specimens
at the Vrelo "Vruljak
2" location in Gorica, Trebinje, Bosnia & Hercegovina.
01 April 2018.
za Spasavanje Čovječje
Barlangi Vakgőte Obszervatórium"..és.."Barlangi
Town of Trebinje (Grad Trebinje) is situated in Trebinjsko Polje
at the upstream end of Popovo Polje in Eastern Hercegovina, Bosnia and
Hercegovina. This area is a biodiversity "hotspot" for hypogean fauna,
including the enigmatic focal species of the "Proteus Project in Bosnia
Proteus anguinus anguinus (Laur, 1768)
locally Čovječija ribica.
Trebišnjica River passes through this large town, whilst simultaneously,
its connected karst hydrology also passes around and beneath the town.
Trebinje and the Trebišnjica River (formerly the Trebinjčica River)
are thus intricately connected.
September 2013., the "Proteus Project in the Trebišnjica River Basin"
reached the end of the politico-administrative process of defining and
formally requesting the first RS-BiH-Entity Level "Protected Area" as a
Biosphere Reserve for the protection of the critically endangered cave
salamander Proteus anguinus.
initial area which we have defined for RS-BiH-Entity Level Protection includes
only a small part of a very much larger karst conduit-aquifer hypogean
ecosystem and will be followed and joined in the years to come by further
adjacent or contiguous parts of the same whole ecosystem until it is protected
in its entirety.
has been agreed with the RS-BiH-Entity Level Government Authorities in
Banja Luka that this is the only viable way we can proceed under the restrictions
of the prevailing politico-administrative and economic conditions. We are
grateful that we can proceed at all.
formal conclusion of the Government protection process is now at the final
stage and is delayed only by the total inaction of the Opština
Trebinje political bureaucracy.
we are certainly not supporting any political party in BiH, we would
like to make it perfectly clear and understood that the non-political
officers and staff members of the Republički
Zavod za Zaštitu Kulturno Istorijskog i Prirodnog Nasleđa, Banja Luka
and those of the relevant ministerial administrative support offices in
the Ecology Section
of the Ministarstvo za Prostorno Uređenje,
Građevinarstvo i Ekologiju, Banja Luka, have
been exceptionally professional and completely supportive of the karst
environmental protection objectives of the "Proteus Project", based in
understand the importance of what we are doing and have often gone far
beyond the remit of their duties over the past 4 years to actively help
us and to reassure us about our imminent success in our objective to obtain
our first RS-BiH Entity Level Government Protection Order for Proteus
anguinus in a Karst Conduit-aquifer Hypogean part-Ecosystem.
"Dilemma" of an Idea :
planning of objectives for the Phase 3. period (2021-2030) of the "Proteus
Project" in Eastern Hercegovina included the creation of a combined facility
based on a "Proteus Observatorium".
was intended that such a combined facility would eventually be used as
a Rescue &
Care Facility for Stray Damaged and Undamaged Proteus Specimens;
a location at which the local population could actually see one of the
most famous cave animals in the world in its natural karst habitat - a
an ecotourist visitor location.
a demonstration centre for associated scientific activities and speleobiological
was also realised that such a facility could not be developed quickly,
due to the constraints placed upon such a plan by the very characteristics
required by (b) above.
creation and operation of a "Proteus Observatorium"
such as we had in mind, would have to be designed in strict compliance
with the "Prime Directive and And Ethical Code of Practice" of the
"Proteus Project". As such, it must therefore, pose absolutely no
risk to the health and well-being of any Proteus colony and must not adversely
affect the natural habitat.
other words, there can be no visitors and in fact, absolutely no human
impact whatsoever to the natural cave habitat in which Proteus is living,
whilst, at the same time, somehow allowing visitors to observe the wonderful
Proteus without using white light! An apparent dilemma?
the future, we will explain how we have resolved the practical and technical
issues in order to achieve the seemingly difficult objective of constructing
a "Proteus Obsevatorium".
PROTEUS OBSERVATORIUM :
building, station, viewpoint or a spying place equipped with scientific
apparatus and from which to watch and make observations.]
building, station, viewpoint or a spying place equipped with scientific
apparatus and from which to covertly watch and make observations about
the cave salamander Proteus anguinus anguinus.and
its associated hypogean fauna.]
Installation work of the "Trebinje Proteus Observatorium" :
initial long-standing problem with the realization of this idea was with
identifying a suitable location at which it could be developed. The most
difficult aspect of the development was in deciding which
Habitat Location, if any, would be suitable and capable of supporting a
2010., it was decided that at least for the development of the "Proteus
Observatorium", we had identified such a location suitable for its development
and that we should
to initiate its realization within the Phase 2. period (2011-2020) of the
"Proteus Project" so that its fully operational implementation would be
on time for the start of the "Proteus Project's" Phase 3. period in 2021.
support of this decision, the important first steps were taken during the
"Proteus Project's" summer 2013 programme of activities, whereby the very
small cave entrance to the chosen habitat location was cleared of its comparatively
small amount of rocks and earth down to the limestone bedrock and then
permanently blocked by the construction of a very thick, steel-reinforced
wall, into which a small lockable access gate was inserted as an integral
structure. Having secured the access point, the first batch of cameras
was installed into the aquatic hypogean habitat by our Hungarian cave divers.
This set in motion the essential basis for the start-up of the original
idea. Further development has taken place in successive years and
includes the installation of our bespoke, standalone underwater large infrared
emitters, which are specially designed and constructed by our Hungarian
cave-diver and engineer Sári Attila in Budapest.
is the first such live and 100% natural.Proteus
Observatorium in all of Bosnia & Hercegovina or indeed anywhere
within the natural geographical range of Proteus anguinus anguinus.
This facility is where an original breeding colony of Proteus in
their natural habitat conditions, can be watched without disturbing the
colony either by the presence of human visitors or of white light.
are other types of "Proteus Vivaria" and Aquaria in Europe using captive
colonies of Proteus for scientific research. Invariably, these are
attached to university laboratories, research establishments or tourist
centres in Slovenia, Italy and France, where the artificial habitat
does not reflect very much of the real or natural habitat of this amazing
species, whose natural behaviour can only be observed ..... in completely
for Trebinje, this is a "first in the world" situation.
PROTEUS RESCUE & CARE CENTRE
RESCUE AND CARE
FACILITY FOR STRAY DAMAGED & UNDAMAGED PROTEUS SPECIMENS :
is not unusual for Proteus specimens to become forced or washed
out of their natural underground habitat locations on to the surface, especially
when the underground flow rates in the karst conduit-aquifers respond to
prolonged periods of high rainfall. This appears to happen mostly
to young or juvenile specimens who have perhaps not previously experienced
extremely high flow conditions or which are not sufficiently prepared for
their survival strategy in such circumstances, or even perhaps do not have
the physical strength to undertake their instinctive survival strategy.
is most probable that we are not aware of many of these natural incidents
and even when members of the local community do come across such stray
that once again, we are not informed.
prolonged periods of high rainfall, Proteus may be washed out into
local surface streams or rivers or may appear in semi-natural or completely
artificial locations where they become isolated and trapped. Wherever
this occurrs, they may survive in a physically undamaged condition for
a brief period of time or may become physically damaged because of the
unfamiliar environment in which they find themselves. In the surface
or epigean environment they can face danger from many possible sources.
During the process of being washed out or forced out onto the surface,
they are liable to incur physical damage, either superficial scratches
or even the more major damage to their external gills or loss of a limb.
The more superficial lesions may appear invisible but still render the
washed out Protei are highly susceptible to infection by the contagious
fungal virus condition Saprolegniasis and where they have
received physical damage, these are the specific areas on their body which
are open to fungal infection. The infection process is initiated by physical
damage which breaks the protective mucus covering of the Proteus,
allowing the fungal spores to enter.
has been apparent to us for many years that there is a need for a service
to rescue, treat and re-home stray Proteus in the Trebišnjica River
Basin and even to protect and nurse damaged specimens in a suitable quarantine
facility before returning them to a suitable hypogean location.
“Proteus Project” has an inherent “duty of care” to protect Proteus
and its natural habitats and this responsibility also naturally extends
to those Proteus specimens that are forced out of their natural
underground habitats onto the surface.
“Proteus Project in the Trebišnjica
is especially fortunate in having the exclusive control of its own natural
Habitat Location - the "Trebinje
Proteus Observatorium" - in which to both
re-home undamaged stray Proteus specimens and to care for damaged
Proteus specimens in a quarantined facility, prior
to their release into the natural karst hypogean environment.
VETERINARY (Chemotherapeutic) PREVENTATIVE AND CURATIVE SERVICE FOR FUNGAL
prevent apparently undamaged Protei from becoming infected with
the Saprolegnia ssp. infection and to treat those with visible physical
injuries from becoming infected,
which may already have become infected, we offer a Veterinary
Care Service to tend to all washed-out damaged
and undamaged Proteus specimens.
unique facility is now at a sufficient stage of development whereby it
is perfectly suited to the task and includes a quarantine or isolation
aquarium, specifically designed and installed for this veterinary purpose.
After the appropriate chemotherapeutic treatment for fungal infections
has concluded, the formerly stray or washed out Protei are then
transferred back to the wild in the natural cave aquatic habitat afforded
by the Vrelo "Vruljak 2" cave system in the Observatorium.
Proteus Rescue & Care Facility” is thus
an integral feature of the "Trebinje Proteus
the local Press and Media in October 2016, together with a leafleting programme,
this facility has been rigorously advertised as being available for accepting
lost or stray Proteus from anywhere in the Trebišnjica River Basin
and that we will collect such individuals from any location in the river
basin to safely return them to the "Trebinje
Proteus Observatorium", firstly
for veterinary treatment and then for their return to their natural underground
with everything the "Proteus Project" does, there is a formal document
explaining in great detail what this facility does, how it works and which
also provides guidelines for the procedures that our field operatives must
adopt when using it.
"Proteus Project" Primary Document 9.1.10.
for the Rescue and Care of Damaged and Undamaged Stray Proteus anguinus
Specimens in the Trebišnjica River Basin." refers.
Document sets out a standard process for dealing with such events and includes
an associated strategy for promoting public awareness of the problem in
order to encourage their pro-active co-operation and involvement.
PREVENTATIVE AND CURATIVE SERVICE FOR OTHER PARASITIC INFECTIONS :
is known about the extent of nematode and trematode parasitic infections
in Proteus populations, let alone how to identify and treat them
in the living animal. Such parasites have been identified in Proteus
intestines, gut walls, kidneys, liver and on the outer surface. It has
been reported that, notwithstanding the presence of these parasites, the
infected Protei seem to be unaffected by them, indicating the effectiveness
of their immunosystem. There may exist a symbiosis between the parasites
and the Proteus host. This may be an area for new research
and for now, it would be wise to leave the treatment of nematode and trematode
infections well alone.
A stray un-injured Proteus being returned unharmed to the natural
hypogean karst habitat in the "Trebinje Proteus Observatorium",
: Dubravko Kurtović,
16 October, 2015.)
ECOTOURIST VISITOR LOCATION :
Proteus Observatorium" will be on the Ecotourist
Route of guided and unguided surface tours around the "Vrelo Vruljak" Biosphere
RS-BiH Entity Government Protected Area. As such, suitable signposting
with information boards will be provided at this location. This Ecotourist
Route is now in its early stages of preparation. It will be a primary
method of encouraging public awareness of the unique natural heritage and
how to behave responsibly towards the karst environment.
immediate area at the entrance to the Observatorium will be a principal
location for posting public information about both the "Proteus Project"
and the Vrelo "Vruljak" Protected Area.
Monitoring the Karst Environment :
the year 2000., the "Proteus Project in Bosnia & Hercegovina" has been
undertaking environmental physico-chemical and chemical analyses of the
aquatic habitat in many locations across the geographical extent of the
Project. This mostly includes the many karst underground locations where
is to be found. We have accumulated a substantial results database.
Water quality analysis focusses on, but is not exclusive to the chemistry
associated with the "karst process".
work is undertaken to characterize and understand the ecological conditions
of the aquatic habitats where Proteus still lives, where Proteus
has never been observed and where Proteus used to live in the past
but is not there now. It will also allow us to observe any long-term trends
in changes that may occur to the water quality as well as helping to identify
"contamination events" and tracing such events to their source(s).
Thus, such a facility underpins karst environmental conservation activities
analytical techniques are currently undertaken using a very expensive system
of portable, very high quality scientific equipment, which is taken and
used anywhere we need to use it, both on the karst surface and in the underground
optimize the use of the present capabilities, the "Proteus Project" acquired
a Land Rover Defender in 2015 to assist with the more efficient deployment
of its volunteers and resources. The vehicle will be partly converted to
support technical field-work and, when necessary, will carry an inflatable
dinghy for deployment of field-workers in flooded areas.
additional resources are funded and facilitated through a mutually agreed
plan with The Devon Karst Research Society.
Proteus Observatorium" at Vrelo "Vruljak 2"
is, of course, one of the many locations belonging to the Vrelo "Vruljak"
(Gorica) Karst Conduit-aquifer Hypogean part-Ecosystem which is
being intensively monitored for the quality of its aquatic environment.
Demonstrations of water quality testing methods and procedures will be
given during advertised "open days" at the location.
the Karst Environment :
Gorica urban and rural district of Trebinje is one of the dirtiest areas
in the Trebišnjica
encountered by the "Proteus Project", where total disregard for the karst
environment is endemic and out of control. As a consequence, Members of
the "Proteus Project" spend much time and effort in trying to combat this
problem by collecting and removing vast amounts of discarded domestic and
commercial waste materials. The area surrounding the "Trebinje
Proteus Observatorium" is not exempt from
this problem. Even the cave entrance was subjected to rubbish disposal
before it was locked and gated. Although we can clean the public approach
areas in the vicinity, we are not able to do so in the visible private
areas adjacent to the location, or on the land either side, below and above
it. A strategy is being drafted to see if we can successfully intervene.
"Proteus Project in Bosnia & Hercegovina" has also been undertaking
various speleobiological investigations to assess the faunal diversity
of many locations. One of the most intriguing areas of biodiversity
assessment is with the identification of cave snails, which form an essential
part of the nutrient supply for many hypogean crustaceans and Proteus.
Practical demonstrations of some of the equipment used in this type of
research will be offered during advertised "open days" at the "Trebinje
Project" Introductory Webpage