india

Human-bear conflict: Learning to coexist the Slovenian way

When he used to go hunting, Miha Mlakar would dream of killing a bear. But today the 33-year-old from Slovenia makes his living watching the animals, peacefully, in their natural forest environment.

The turnaround to shooting bears with a camera, not a rifle, puts Mlakar, who runs bear observation tours, in step with wider efforts in the small Alpine nation to promote the coexistence of humans and bears.

Once on the verge of extinction, Slovenia’s brown bear population is booming, with the number roaming the sprawling forests having doubled in the last decade to around 1,000.

As a result, encounters with bears have increased – not that it seems to unduly worry everyone.

“If you run into a bear, you have to step back… (But) there is no danger. The bear also prefers to move away,” Ljubo Popovic, a 67-year-old pensioner who lives in the village of Banja Loka in the southern Kocevje region, told AFP.

Managing bears

In Slovenia, more than 60 percent of respondents in a 2016 survey carried out in areas where bears live said they were in favour of the bears’ presence, even if many also said they would like to see the numbers regulated.

“We have an average of one to three cases of physical contact between bears and humans per year,” Rok Cerne, of the Slovenia Forest Service in charge of wildlife, told AFP.

“Fortunately, we haven’t registered any serious incident over the last years,” he added, stressing they were “very active in preventive measures”. AFP

.


Source: Read Full Article