Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The beast of the Danube

By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Ljubljana

23 March 2015 

The Danube salmon can reach the size of a man and live for 30 years - but its last hunting grounds in the Balkans are being threatened by a rash of dam-building.

"It's very fast, lean, and elegant. And very beautiful," says Ulrich Eichelmann.

He might have been describing a racing car. In fact, the director of the environmental group Riverwatch is talking about a fish - Hucho Hucho in Latin, Huchen in German, often known as the Danube salmon in English because it was once found in much of the Danube basin.

But its main remaining refuge today is in the Balkans, in the streams and rivers which tumble down the mountains and twist through the valleys between Slovenia and Montenegro.

"We Europeans cry out with indignation about the plight of the last tigers in the wild in Asia, and demand efforts to save them," says Eichelmann, as we trudge though the wetland forest down to the shore of the River Sava in Slovenia. "But we seem blind to the threat to these last tigers of our own - the Danube salmon."

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