Skip to main content

Protection and conservation of the river turtle (Mauremys rivulata) and its habitat

Natura 2000 Award finalist - Conservation category - 2022 edition

River turtle


There are two species of freshwater turtles on the territory of the Republic of Croatia: the Balkan pond turtle and European pond turtle. The Balkan pond turtle is present only in the southern part of Croatia in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. This is also the limit of the species’ northern and western distribution range in Europe. Since 2006, the Public Institution for the Management of Protected Natural Areas of Dubrovnik-Neretva County has been continuously investing all its efforts, as well as significant financial resources, in protecting and conserving the Balkan pond turtle in the County, in close cooperation with scientific institutions. 

In 2012, distribution surveys were carried out of all known sites (puddles, lakes, streams, canals) at three known locations (Ston field, Majkovi and Konavle field) and in a series of potential new areas. The methodology was based on observation and search using binoculars from a distance, followed by accurate terrain research. Since this research has been carried out, six individuals of the Balkan pond turtle were found in the summer of 2017 in the Ston field which confirmed that the population here is on the verge of extinction.

During the summer of 2013, research was conducted in 22 ponds and in the channel of the river Ljuta in Konavle field. This was followed up with a comprehensice population research on the Balkan pond turtle in Konavle field in 2014 and 2015. In 2019, during the pond research conducted in Lumbarda, on the Island of Korčula, one individual of Balkan pond turtle was found. New research has also started in 2019 within the Natura 2000 site HR20001010 Paleoombla – Ombla. This revealed the presence of the Balkan pond turtle which was previously thought to have gone extinct here in 1921. A LIFE project has been submitted.