Wild Balkans

Photo Gallery: Rare Animals of the Balkans

While the Balkan Peninsula serves as a refuge for many creatures, many of them are listed by the IUCN as vulnerable or endangered.

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Hermann's Tortoise - Testudo hermanniHermanns TortoiseListed by IUCN as Near Threatened. This species occurs patchily in Mediterranean Europe, from coastal northeastern Spain, through southeastern France, Mallorca (Spain), Menorca (Spain), Corsica (France), Sardinia (including Asinara Island) and Sicily (Italy), the coastal plains of peninsular Italy, coastal Croatia, coastal Bosnia-Herzegovina, coastal Montenegro, central and southern Serbia, inland to southwestern Romania, much of Bulgaria, Macedonia, nearly all of Albania, the Greek mainland plus islands from Corfu to Zakynthos, and European Turkey. Records from Cyprus are likely to be in error (Cheylan 2001). Photo: Paula via Wikimedia Commons.
Asprete or Romanian Darter - Romanichthys valsanicolaAspreteListed by IUCN as critically endangered. Endemic to a very restricted area in southern Romania. The species was known from River Arges and its tributaries Vaslan and Raul Doamnei; however, it is now only extant in a 1 km stretch of the Vaslan River. Photo: Travilis via Wikimedia Commons.
European Mink - Mustela lutreolaEuropean MinkListed by IUCN as endangered. The current range includes an isolated population in northern Spain and western France, which is widely disjunct from the main range in Eastern Europe (Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, central regions of European Russia and the Danube delta in Romania). Photo: Andrew Ives via Wikimedia Commons.
Balkan Lynx - Lynx lynx martinoiBalkan LynxThe present population of the Balkan lynx - described as an own subspecies Lynx lynx martinoi - is estimated to be less than 100 individuals which are distributed in Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. Photo: Rita Schlamberger, ©ORF/Science Vision
Olm - Proteus anguinusOlmListed by IUCN as vulnerable. Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Introduced to the French Pyrenees and northeast Italy. Suspected in Serbia and Montenegro. Photo: © WNET.ORG/Icon Films
Red-breasted Goose - Branta ruficollisRed-breasted GooseListed by IUCN as endangered. Breeds on the Taimyr, Gydan and Yamal peninsulas, Russia. Prior to the 1950s, most birds wintered in Azerbaijan. However, 80-90% of birds now congregate in January/February at five roost sites on the Black Sea at Shabla and Durankulak in Bulgaria and Razelm-Sinoe lagoons and Techirghiol in Romania. Smaller numbers winter in Ukraine and in severe winters in Greece. Photo: Tyler Brenot via Wikimedia Commons.
Dalmation Pelican - Pelecanus crispusDalmation PelicanListed by IUCN as vulnerable. Conservation measures have resulted in a population increase in Europe, particularly at the species's largest colony, at Lake Mikri Prespa in Greece. However, rapid population declines in the remainder of its range are suspected to be continuing and therefore the species is listed as Vulnerable. Pelecanus crispus breeds in eastern Europe and east-central Asia, in Serbia and Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Ukraine, Mongolia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Photo: Hans Hillewaert via Wikimedia Commons.
Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliacaEastern Imperial EagleListed by IUCN as vulnerable, Aquila heliaca breeds in Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine. Photo: AngMoKio via Wikimedia Commons