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THE FAUNA

The Green Karst provides shelter to countless species in the animal kingdom, from the ancient olm, to wolves, lynxes, and bears; a paradise for birds and men, who live, create, and nurture the balance between nature and culture.

THE OLM
The first person to have described the olm or proteus as many as 300 years ago was Janez Vajkard Valvasor, who documented the popular belief that the olm is akin to a dragon, and has also been known to surface during high water. The olm can be 25 to 30cm long, making it the largest exclusively cave-dwelling animal in the world. It has adapted completely to living in the dark-its skin contains no protective pigmentation and is, due to red capillaries, of a pale pink colour. The colour of the small serpent’s skin is almost human, hence the popular name the human fish. The olm’s eyes are regressed, and it breathes using its external gills, rudimentary lungs, and skin. It feeds on small crabs, worms, snails, and other aquatic invertebrates. It has a life span of up to 100 years, and can survive for several years without food
BIRDS
The birds in the Notranjska Regional Park are the most noticeable part of living nature. They are numerous and also loud, colourful, and usually not really small. Lake Cerknica is one of Slovenian birdwatching hotspots, as it is home to more than 250 different bird species. Among those, more than 100 nest. Among them is the globally endangered Corncrake, the singing of which can be enjoyed in spring. The Cerknica Lake is one of the two nesting sites of endangered species such as the Common Snipe, Red-necked Grebe, Ferruginous Duck, Northern Shoveler, Common Redshank, and the Eurasian Curlew. In the forests of the park, some rare species such as the Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Hazel Hen, Ural Owl, and Tengmalm’s Owl also nest.
Animals of the Forest

Animals of the Forest. This vast and dense Snežnik-Javornik forest area and its natural state also enables the conservation of the colourful fauna of the forest ecosystem. It is common fact that an ecosystem can only maintain its equilibrium if inhabited by every naturally present species. All animals inhabiting the forests of Snežnik are endemic to the area. Despite numerous intrusions and disturbances in the wider area, and the reduction and degradation of habitats, the Snežnik-Javornik forests still provide habitation for species which have mostly disappeared from Slovenia and Central Europe.

Beside the deer and larger animals (bears, wolves, and lynxes), other notable animal species include the Wildcat (Felis silvestris), Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), birds of prey such as the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), owls such as the Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), and the Ural Owl (Strix uralensis). The forests of Snežnik are also home to various other animal species like insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, bats, and other small mammals, many of them protected.

GREAT BEASTS

The vast forests of the Green Karst provide suitable living conditions for a number of Slovenia’s largest carnivores (the bear, wolf, and lynx), providing them with endless forests necessary for these populations to survive and develop. These species can no longer be found in the densely populated parts of Slovenia and Europe.

The forests of Snežnik and Javornik are the north-western home of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) of the Dinarides and the Balkans. Due to its size and habits, the bear’s habitat includes several tens of thousands of hectares of dense forests. In 1993, bear hunting was prohibited; a permit may exclusively be granted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food.

The Brown Bear

The forests of Snežnik and Javornik are the north-western home of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) of the Dinarides and the Balkans. Due to its size and habits, the bear’s habitat includes several tens of thousands of hectares of dense forests. In 1993, bear hunting was prohibited; a permit may exclusively be granted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food.

The Wolf

The wolf (Canis lupus) has always lived in the forests of Snežnik, though, due to intense extermination in the past, has only managed to survive due to constant immigration. Due to the extent of the forests, low population density, and direct connection to neighbouring forested areas of the Kočevje and Croatia region (a connected population with regular trails of migration), the Snežnik-Javornik region is the key habitat of the Slovenian wolf. Despite this, even with the partial hunting prohibition in 1976, and the abolition of wolf hunting in 1993, the population of wolves in Slovenia still does not nearly meet the nutritional capacities of our forests. On the Red List of endangered species in Slovenia, it has thus been categorized as vulnerable.

The Lynx

The lynx (Lynx lynx) is endemic to the forests of the high karst and has been completely exterminated in the past. In the early seventies, the lynx was reintroduced into the Snežnik forests. Due to its explicit territoriality, the population of lynxes has been increasing in these favourable living conditions.