The Balkans of Europe. I’m sure you all are familiar with this area. It includes countries like Albania, Croatia, Bosnia, Greece, Slovenia, and Montenegro. Alongside ancient Roman cities and picturesque beaches is quite a lot of wilderness. And in these wild areas lives a species that you might associate more with Alaska and Yellowstone: brown bears. No joke – the region that is famous for Game of Thrones, historic cultures, bloody wars, and mass travel is also home to Europe’s largest carnivore.
To teach us about Eurasian brown bears, today we are sitting down with Natarsha Babic, Eurasian Brown Bear Researcher & PhD Candidate at Monash University. Natarsha grew up playing in the outdoors of her Australian home and knew from a very early age that she wanted to work in wildlife. During university, she traveled all over the world performing research and volunteering with almost every group of animals you can imagine. During a research stint in Finland, she became fascinated with the area’s large carnivores and found important holes in our knowledge base that needed to be filled. That’s when she had the idea to give back to her father’s home country, Croatia, and pursue a PhD studying the brown bears of the Balkans. Through grit and determination, she found a way to make it work and has been studying the area’s bears since 2020.
Natarsha and I have so much fun discussing:
- Her winding path that led to studying Eurasian brown bears
- The history of brown bears across the continent and in her specific region
- The threats bears are facing
- Why she’s studying long-term stress levels in bears
- Conflict mitigation techniques to reduce bear deaths
- The difficulties of working in several countries, some of which are war-torn, as a woman and a foreigner
- Her hopes for the future of brown bears
Alright, everyone. Please enjoy this engaging conservation with, Natarsha.
Listen to this episode.
Watch this episode on YouTube.
Natarsha in the Field
Links & Resources
- Richard Reina’s Ecophysiology and Conservation Research Group Profile
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