Olm guardians from Postojna shortlisted for Natura 2000 Award

Postojna – Baby dragon guardians at the Postojna Cave have been shortlisted for this year’s Natura 2000 Award as the only representatives from Slovenia in what the company operating the world-famous Karst cave sees as a great compliment to the olm, a cave-dwelling amphibian, to the Postojna Cave and the entire country.

“Awards are usually given out for outstanding business achievements. But in this case, the international award rewards care, excellence and consciousness in managing protected natural areas, and highlights the importance of preserving the ecosystem for the local community and economy in the entire EU, which is much more than an outstanding business achievement,” Postojnska Jama chairman Marjan Batagelj said in a press release on Monday.

The Postojna Cave is shortlisted in the “communication” category as part of what is the sixth Natura 2000 competition to date.

The company said that the award recognises achievements in communication which contribute to raising awareness about Natura 2000 and bring lasting change in the attitude to the environment.

In 2016, one of the olms started laying eggs, in what was the first time that the blind cave salamander (Proteus anguinus) was witnessed reproducing “in the wild”.

Thanks to the team’s intensive care of the embryos and young olms, 21 five-year-old “baby dragons” were bred, an event that attracted a lot of media attention.

The jury that shortlisted the baby dragon guardians said that their “activities are a good example of how a charismatic species can be used to find political support for the protection of threatened habitats and species”.

There are 21 finalists in five categories in the running for the Natura 2000 Award, with voting at https://ec.europa.eu/environment/natura-2000-award_en open until 27 April. The finalist with the most votes in each category will receive the Citizens’ Award.