Finished projects

Biodiversity of subterranean fauna of Karlovac County

Large caves and caves systems are found in the region of shallow karst of the Kordun and the Ogulin plateaus in the Karlovac County. There are more than 500 caves registered, the most important among them being the following: Đula – Medvedica cave system, consisted of 16 396 m of canals and was the longest cave in Croatia; Panjkov ponor – Kršlje cave system, the third biggest cave in Croatia; Špilja u Kamenolomu Tounj, the fifth longest cave in Croatia; Jopićeva špilja, the seventh longest cave in Croatia, and many others. Also, there are remarkable submerged caves, such as Izvor Zagorske Mrežnice, consisted of more than one km of channels.

The extremely high subterranean biodiversity of the Karlovac County on the global level highlights the necessity of research and conservation of the entire region. Until now more than 100 actual subterranean species have been registered, with 30 endemic species. The most important are: olm (Proteus anguinus), probably the most famous subterranean animal. It is endemic to Dinarides, and one of the species that needs strict protection according to the list of EU Habitat Directive, Anex II and Anex IV. The Red List of Endangered Plants and Animals in Croatia contains several species from the Karlovac County, including the Ogulin cave planarian (Dendrocoelum subterraneum), which is considered extinct. The (Eunapius subterraneus), the only subterranean freshwater sponge in the world, the Babich’s cave prawn (Troglocaris anophthalmus intermedia) and the enigmatic cave hydrozoan (Velkovrhia enigmatica) are considered endangered, the cave tube-worm (Marifugia cavatica) vulnerable and the Kordun cave pill-bug (Monolistra caeca meridionalis) near threatened.

Overall objective:

  • protection of nature and environment, and sustainable use of natural resources in the Karlovac County

Specific objectives:

  • to encourage conservation of the subterranean freshwater supplies and biodiversity of subterranean fauna of Karlovac County
  • to develop cross-sector cooperation in the area of nature and environmental protection, with a special emphasis on groundwater
  • to collect scientific data on groundwater and fauna in order to establish professional grounds for legal protection of the region and specific sites
  • to educate the local community and raise awareness about Karlovac County subterranean fauna biodiversity and threats it is endangered by, and
  • to promote the Karlovac County subterranean fauna biodiversity.


  • exhibition “World under World” in the cave Vrlovka in Kamanje
  • educational workshops in schools
  • finished field research for the Project
  • first field trip as a part of the Project
  • open lectures “The Last Moment to Save the Underground”


Croatian Biospelological Society


Mountaineering Society Vrlovka
Speleological Society Ursus Spelaeus
Kamanje Municipality
Public institution NATURA VIVA for management of protected natural areas of the Karlovac County


European Union through PHARE 2006 Program


November 2008 – October 2009

“This web page has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Croatian Biospeleological Society and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.”