Though illegal hunting is still a problem, even throughout several of the region’s national parks, local efforts and the education provided have taken big steps over the years to protect and conserve the area’s wildlife.
Unawareness is the number one danger in these cases as we become more and more “big city” people. Before we visit such pure places, we should always get well informed by local authorities of the dos and dont’s.
Ioannina is one of the last places where brown bears can be found throughout Greece, unfortunately their numbers have lessen over the years due to hunting and road accidents. They can be spotted throughout the entire region and pose no real threat to hikers or other outdoor enthusiasts. Still, we believe that awareness of how to react in such an encounter is needed!
Wild boars are more likely to attack if provoked. Widely hunted for its meat, though their numbers have remained steady over the past few decades. You will find deer in numbers in the forests and mountain areas of the region and the Balkan Chamois, which is a rare kind of mountain goat, thrives throughout the mountain ranges of the area.
Less frequently seen species include the grey wolf, wildcats and otters. Wild horses can also be spotted roaming the mountainous areas of Souli and are a truly magical sight to witness.
One of the creatures with the biggest reputation throughout Ioannina is ironically one of the smallest. The Alpine Newt or Triturus alpestris can only be found within the two alpine lakes of the Pindos mountain range. The appearance of this small amphibian (which admittedly does bear resemblance of a dragon) is what led to the alpine lakes being referred to as drakolimnes or “dragon lakes”. While modern residents of the area and visitors may chuckle, local legend supports the claim that centuries ago the local population believed that real dragons haunted the peaks which overshadowed their villages.
You might think this is a fairy tale… we love to think of it as a historic fact! 😉