Conservation on the EDGE of the World

Cave diving 300 meter into the cave to monitor cave salamnder (Proteus anguinus) population in southern Europe. How far and deep would you go for conservation? (foto: Vedran Jalžić)

Olm is one of the most evolutionary distinct amphibian species in the World and the only European cave adopted vertebrate. Its skin is totally white and it has lost its eyes. It lives in total darkness so it uses minute vibrations and electric signals to find its food. Amazing is that it can live up to 100 years due to its cold water environment (average 6°C) and very slow metabolism.

Research team from Croatian Institute for biodiversity and Croatian Herpetological Society follows these animals deep into the dangerous cave systems. Some systems even stretch to amazing 1500 m under the surface. Olm populations are in decline due to pollution, climate change and habitat destruction but still very little is known about these animals and how they behave in their natural environment.


Croatian team has set up several monitoring  locations and is hoping to find a way to stop the population decline before this amazing animal, or „cave dragon“ as it is sometimes called, completely vanishes. Captive breeding program is being set up and Olm seems to be looking to brighter future.

Further reading:

EDGE of EXISTANCE (Zoological Society of London)

CROATIA - IUCN country focus

Did you know that Olm can go to starvation up to 10 years? (foto: Vedran Jalžić)




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