Lifestyle

Lokrum Reserve Rabbits Endangered

By 11 May 2021
Lokrum Reserve Rabbits Endangered
Mario Romulić (Romulic doo)

May 11, 2021 - The Lokrum Reserve will be open to visitors from May 15. For the first time this year, the people of Dubrovnik have a special benefit - free transportation and a visit to the Reserve throughout the season, regardless of the number of departures.

It is enough to present proof of a place of residence to visit the island for free. The favorite beach and picnic area of ​​the people of Dubrovnik were supposed to open its doors last Saturday. Still, the planned opening was postponed after determining that part of the Lokrum rabbits were infected with the hemorrhagic disease.

As Dubrovački Vjesnik reports, the Lokrum Reserve confirmed that a detailed analysis conducted by the Croatian Veterinary Institute confirmed the disease in rabbits and the findings were notified to the State Inspectorate of the Republic of Croatia, and the veterinary inspector performed the supervision. It was decided to conduct an additional detailed examination of the entire island to identify the presence of infected individuals, said the Lokrum Nature Reserve, and especially point out that this disease can not be transmitted to humans or other animals, but also through indirect contact with pathogens, for example, through clothing or footwear, it can take off the island and endanger other rabbits on the mainland. 

To minimize the risk of disease in rabbits - pets or individuals in commercial breeding, Lokrum Reserve has decided to postpone the opening until May 15. By then, the infectivity and the possibility of contact with the remaining biological material will be significantly reduced. All this was done to protect the people of Dubrovnik who have rabbits at home because the disease for rabbits is highly transmissible and deadly, points out the Public Institution Lokrum Reserve.

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Grgo Jelavic

According to veterinary data on rabbit hemorrhagic disease, up to 80% of animals become ill with the first appearance of the virus in the non-immune rabbit population in just a few days, and mortality reaches almost 100 percent. The disease passes in 2-3 days, and the rabbits that survive are resistant to re-infection. Cubs up to two months old are also immune to the disease. The Croatian Veterinary Institute received a finding confirming the presence of this virus in Lokrum rabbits on April 24, so it is not certain how many individuals have been infected and died on the island since then. How many rabbits are still alive could not be confirmed by Nikolina Grković; while she wrote, she did not perform a detailed inspection of the island.

Along with peacocks, tame Lokrum rabbits have been a favorite attraction for all visitors for years, although due to their number and intensive grazing, many plant species in the Reserve have died. Namely, rabbits were brought to the island and released into the wild by an unknown person about ten years ago. They have since multiplied so much that they almost destroyed the island's greenery, so this spring, the Lokrum Reserve decided to hunt rabbits and peacocks and move to different places in Croatia. This has caused numerous controversies among animal lovers, especially on social networks. Still, the fact remains that the Lokrum Reserve must protect forest vegetation for which it was established and protect from extinction endangered and rare habitat types and species and valuable garden heritage on Lokrum.

That is why the Game Protection Program "Lokrum Island" was adopted in 2016, according to which the number of invasive species should be reduced. The relocation plan for rabbits and peacocks was adopted for a ten-year period. Still, judging by the presence of the deadly virus for rabbits, the so-called rabbit plague, the question is how many of them will be greeted by the first visitors to Lokrum at all.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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