LIFE for Mauremys – Mauremys rivulata – conservation of the umbrella species of the Mediterranean wetlands in Dubrovnik-Neretva County
Duration of the project:
1. 10. 2022. – 30. 9. 2026.
University of Zagreb Faculty of agriculture
Zoo Zagreb, Croatian water, Association Hyla, Public Institution for the Management of Protected Natural Areas of Dubrovnik-Neretva County
LIFE for Mauremys is an ambitious 4-year project aiming to improve the unfavourable conservation status of iconic freshwater turtle species, the Balkan Terrapin (Mauremys rivulata), in Croatia. Project is designed to address all of the known drivers of M. rivulata decline across five Natura 2000 sites in Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia (including all of the known Croatian populations), and at the same time conduct an assisted breeding programme to provide much needed population reinforcement for one of them (considered locally extinct until 2019). Our concrete actions include working closely with the local community on habitat restoration of ponds (35 hectares) and additional wetland habitats across four Natura 2000 sites (2850 hectares), improving habitat quality and connectivity, removing invasive alien species, securing the turtle nesting sites from predators and invasive agricultural practices through collaboration with landowners, and developing turtle-friendly fyke-net to address the by-catch mortality. We will implement a breeding programme in Zagreb ZOO with the specific objective of producing 40 hatchlings of Mauremys rivulata that will be ready by the project end for soft-release in one of our project areas, enabling us to save one of the most threatened populations of this species in Croatia from the brink of extinction, and providing media attention which we will use to raise awareness about the importance of Balkan terrapin, biodiversity protection, and Natura 2000 network. We believe that the proposed project activities will lead to the expected outcomes thanks to the comprehensives of planned actions, our plan to work closely with the local community, and the interdisciplinary and intersectoral strength of our partnership structure. We see LIFE for Mauremys as a start of the long-term success for conservation of Mauremys rivulata and Mediterranean wetland habitats, starting from Croatia but reaching across its entire range.