Experts from all around Western Balkans joined for a camp organized successfully in Popova Shapka, Macedonia, in monitoring the birds, a project supported by the Western Balkans Fund. Experts representing Albania, Endora Çelohoxhaj, Ilçe Kostofski and Klea Duro shared with us their experience during this camp. (This article is part of WBF Newsletter 006 – August 2018).
Q1: You participated to the “Birds without borders” camp in Macedonia. May we have your feelings about this regional environmental experience?
- Endora Çelohoxhaj: When you ask an environmental biologist about nature, the answer it will be always “amazing”. I haven’t been in Macedonia before and I found there such a beautiful nature, with a lot of biodiversity. I was there for studying birds and I found a lot of species that I haven’t seen yet in my country. It was such a friendly nature when everything was in peace. That’s why I wanted to stay there for more days and I hope I will have the opportunity to go again. I am very glad to say that when it comes for the nature you want to know more, not just for birds but also other fields. A few months ago, I was searching in Sharri Mountains in Kosovo’s part for one of the most dangerous snake in Europe and I couldn’t find it. And this time, in Popova Shapka, finally we found “Vipera ursini”. It seems ridiculous because the most of the people are scared, but for a biologist this is wonderful. We stayed for camping two days in Leshnica, and with a lot of joy I can say that it was like a dream where you can watch forest, trees, river, waterfall, beautiful mountains and the most important a wild biodiversity.
- Ilçe Kostofski: It was a first time for me to go camping out of Albania and it was a very good experience. It was a long way to the camp but I think it was worth it. The natural beauty of this place was amazing with clean air and it was very calm and quiet.
- Klea Duro: It was my first experience of this kind and it was pretty impressive. During this summer camp I had the opportunity to meet new and interesting people, to go hiking, to camp for the first time in the wild and of course to do birdwatching. During our field work, I had the opportunity to see some birds that I haven’t seen before, such as: Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Alpine Chough (Phyrrocorax graculus), etc. and the most interesting thing was that, since in these fieldtrips we were together with people of different biology disciplines, we had the opportunity to see and learn about some other exciting species like snakes ( some kind of vipers which are very venomous ). I really enjoyed my time there.
Q2: What did you find new in this camp? What is the experience that it brings?
- Endora Çelohoxhaj: When I first saw the camp, I didn’t know it how they worked and I was very exciting for that. And step by step i started to know new people from different countries in Balkans, people from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia. I saw different people, but with the same goal “Studying nature and protecting her”. Maybe they didn’t know each other before, but there I saw a nice collaboration between them for reaching that goal. And this was amazing. They helped each other for collecting dates in the field and they worked together for analyzing them. And this type of collaboration I want to see in our students in Albania.
- Ilçe Kostofski: We camped out in the woods. The view was amazing and I saw a lot of new birds that I haven’t seen in Albania before.
- Klea Duro: I think that what was interesting and I guess new in this camp, is the collaboration among people of different nationalities and backgrounds. It was quite epic experience to have some ornithologists, botanists, herpetologists together in the same place. We not only enjoyed our time together, but we also learned from each other.
Q3: How was your collaboration with the colleagues from the region?
- Endora Çelohoxhaj: In first days people from Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina could speak more easily with each other because of the same language, and we found ourselves more distant. But for the next days they were very friendly with us and we had a nice collaboration in the field for studying nature, especially birds where I was more involved. This was great because we shared our experiences and i learned a lot from all the people there. When you learn from the other’s experiences, this can bring to you that motivation that you can do something like them in your country.
- Ilçe Kostofski: Most of the people there were from Macedonia and it was easy for me because I can speak Macedonian language. We sat around the camp fire and told stories and jokes. It was very interesting for me and I made a lot of new friends there.
- Klea Duro: I met there some fascinating people and it was a pleasure for me to find out about their experiences, to see how they worked in the field and to learn from them. At the same time, it was a pleasure to also share my experience (even though modest) with them and to help identify birds during our field work. So I must say, it was a pleasant collaboration.
Q4: What is your message to the environmentalists and general people in the Western Balkans?
- Endora Çelohoxhaj: I just finished my master degree on “Environmental Biology” and I am trying to be very involved in everything related to the environment. And every day that I am more close with the nature I can understand everything better. We have such a beautiful nature with a lot of species that need protection. We have to do something together for that. In Albania we use a phrase “Unity is strength” which means if we are together on that for protecting our natural resources we will make it to have an entire peaceful ecosystem where everything can live without fear and better protected. Camps like that bring people from different countries and this is very useful for working together and sharing ideas, so everyone can learn more and can bring knowledge from the neighboring countries.
- Ilçe Kostofski: We have to protect our natural environment because it is priceless. It is our responsibility to protect the rivers, plants, birds and all natural ecosystems and we can do this if we work together.
- Klea Duro: The problems in the Western Balkans are similar and the solution for them is COLLABORATION. If we work together and learn from each other experiences, our approach to environmental problems will be more effective.
For more information on this project please visit the link: http://ptice.ba/en/