In DepthConservation Biology

Poachers threaten Balkans' underground biodiversity

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Science  01 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1116-1117
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6367.1116

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Summary

Deep beneath the surface of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro lies a unique hot spot of biodiversity. Thousands of deep caves, channels, and sinkholes in the Dinaric Alps, Europe’s largest limestone karst, are teeming with creatures adapted to life in pitch-dark, food-poor conditions. Every year, biologists, working with speleologists, add new species to a trove that already totals more than 900 creatures found nowhere else. But the biodiversity is under threat from unscrupulous poachers seeking rare specimens to sell on the black market. The past 2 years, scientists have found hundreds of illegal pitfall traps in caves in three countries. Some are now working with police to help investigate these crimes.

  • * Vedrana Simičević is a science journalist based in Rijeka, Croatia.