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Goats are seen in the village of Nivica, southern Albania. An ambitious project is aiming to open up remote villages in the highlands of southern Albania to the outside world and to tourists wanting to discover the spectacular natural beauty and rural way of life of the more isolated parts of the Balkan country. (AP Photo/Geo Delveroudis)

High in the mountains of southern Albania, a bone-jarring drive along a rough track with switchbacks frequented more by goats than by cars leads to a cluster of small villages where time appears to have stood still for decades.

Sheep’s milk is still carried to the local cheesemaker by donkey. Elderly villagers hike into the mountains to collect fistfuls of wild oregano and other herbs. Old rituals of lighting candles to honor ancient, gnarled, sacred oaks are kept alive, although no one who practices them seems to know why or how they came about.

Strung out along a sheer cliff behind an old, crumbled fortress, the village of Nivica is unknown to many even in Albania. But an ambitious project is aiming to open it up to the outside world and to tourists wanting to discover the spectacular natural beauty and rural way of life of the more isolated parts of the country.

“We are doing a pilot project on the concept of how to connect rural communities very close to the coastline but (which have) never been helped by coastline tourism,” said Auron Tare, who heads Albania’s National Coastline Agency and is leading the project in Nivica.

The area’s attractions are many. Crystal-clear streams run through sheer canyons and gorges slicing through the landscape. Small stone Ottoman-era bridges still arch over gullies, untouched for centuries. At sunset, shepherds drive their flocks through the fields to small corrals for milking.

And like everything in the Balkans, the region is steeped in history.

“Apart from the landscape, the reason to come here is because of the stories. This is a place where Roman troops traveled, this is a place where Normans traveled, this is a place where Ottomans traveled. World War I, World War II. There are many stories to be connected to this area,” Tare said.

“Plus the wonderful landscape, and also the untouched life. Here you see people milking their sheep and their goats as they did 4,000 years ago. You see people in their pastoral daily life, which is extremely attractive to people who have lost that heritage, and you would come here and find that spiritual enrichment in your life.”

For now, visitors are mainly young backpackers from European countries hiking along Albania’s ancient trails and camping in a field just outside the village. Tare says about 150 tourists visited the village over the past month, mainly from the Czech Republic, drawn by comments on social media from a team of Czechs who have been working on marking centuries-old paths as hiking trails.

The area is still far off the beaten track; many of those living on the coast just over the other side of the mountains have never even heard of Nivica.

“This village, we can say that it is deeply (hidden) in the mountain,” said Lorena Sinatrakaj, a 29-year-old archaeologist working on the project. Even she herself had never heard of it, she admits.

When the project leaders arrived, they found a village based on agriculture and animal rearing, she said. Tourism was an alien concept, and the village was in a general state of dilapidation.

Many of the locals had moved away to towns and cities elsewhere in the country. With little state infrastructure or services, waste management consisted largely of throwing garbage down the ravines or tossing it in the street.

“When we came here last year, there was 30 years’ worth of garbage in the village square,” Tare said.

The project’s first task was to clear up the trash, both inside the village and in the nearby ravine. Now the village square has been cleared, and villagers drive their sheep past stonemasons chipping at rocks, the sound of chisels striking stone echoing through the sultry summer heat as they work on the village’s biggest single project: a new guesthouse, scheduled for completion next spring.

The overall project includes restoring old buildings to be used as guesthouses, and helping locals start grass-roots bed-and-breakfast businesses in their homes. Sinatrakaj says locals quickly embraced the project once they saw the potential for tourism.

For Dallandyshe Merio, a local woman who left the village two decades ago and moved to the southern port town of Vlora, the project has brought such hope to the village that she is considering moving back.

“I’m happy that the village has come back to life again. Before, everyone was gone,” said Merio, who initially converted one of the rooms in her house in the village for paying guests. When she saw how well the system worked with her first guest, a German, she renovated a second room and now runs a small bed-and-breakfast.

“People are coming back and rebuilding,” she said.

Crucially, part of the project includes turning the dirt track leading to the village from the nearest town of Tepelene into a road, to ease access.

But the danger of opening up too fast to too much tourism is a real one, and something Tare and Sinatrakaj are well aware of. The aim, they say, is not to turn Nivica into a place where tour buses disgorge thousands of tourists, something that would shatter the tranquility of the area and endanger the local way of life.

“As we know, tourism has a lot of good benefits but also negative effects, such as destroying local culture and destroying (the) environment. And that’s a very good point to take into consideration,” Tare said.

“And as we go slow, we’re trying to convert the traditional hospitality to a more welcoming feeling and place for visitors to come, without disturbing the local culture. It is a challenging aspect, of course, and time will tell if we are right or not.”

Originally reported by Associated Press.

Remember, no issue has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all investment matters ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialised units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Gregor Novak,
Deputy Global Director, No. 11,
Operations Research & Implementation Division,
Email : deputy.gd.11@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1946
Social Media : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook

For Queries Specific to the EU Region :
Email : eu@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
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Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
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Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
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The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.

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Bears once held in grim captivity in Albania are adapting to a new life in a sanctuary in Kosovo, encouraging many in Albania to create their own safe haven.

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After being tormented in a cage for two years, forlorn brown bear Tomi left Albania and found a new, better home in Kosovo one month ago.

The five-year-old bear who had been kept in captivity in dismal conditions to “entertain” visitors to a restaurant in the north of Tirana has now been rehoused at a sanctuary near Lake Badovc, 21 kilometres from Pristina.

Once described in the international media as the saddest bear in the world, Tomi on Thursday was enjoying playing and catching apples in a green open area of the so-called Animal Forest of Pristina.

“Like no other bear in the centre, Tomi has enjoyed his new home since the first day, always playing and looking content,” Fitore Berisha, a guide in the centre, told BIRN.

Afrim Mahmuti, representative of Four Paws organisation and director of the Pristina animal sanctuary, told BIRN that Tomi and two other bears brought from Albania, called Xhina and Pashuk, were still in the rehabilitation phase.

“They have experienced misery and now their physical and mental health is slowly improving. The three Albanian bears have been kept in critical conditions and isolation for years, so the process is going to be a long ride,” Mahmuti said.

Pashuku, who before coming to Pristina needed a surgical operation to remove an iron chain stuck inside his neck, also seems to be enjoying his new life.

On the other hand, Xhina, another “restaurant bear” from Albania, still seems frightened and nervous. She runs inside her den every time humans approach. The park caretakers hope that she will overcome her anxiety one day.

Three Albanians bears are among 16 rehomed in Kosovo, a country that seems to have had some success when it comes to its bear sanctuary.

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Work on the centre in Pristina started in 2012, after news broke of the grim phenomenon of captured bears being used to entertain people for profit.

The international organisation, Four Paws, entered into negotiations with the government of Kosovo while a foundation was created to manage the centre.

The Pristina Municipality donated free use of 16 hectares for 10 years, while supporting it also by building a nearby road that will bring visitors to the centre.

In its four years of existence, the centre has gathered 19 bears formerly held in captivity, from three to 17 years in age, while employing 16 mainly young people from the Pristina area as staff.

Animal Forest of Pristina Director Mahmuti said the park has become an important tourist destination for Kosovo. During the first nine months of this year alone, around 30,000 people bought tickets to visit it.

“We are not only taking care of the bears but are also organising training with children and young people on how they can protect nature and wild animals. With the help of volunteers from all over Europe, we are helping different campaigns to protect the environment in Kosovo,” he said.

But having the main focus on bears, Mahmuti said they consider it a major success that during 2015 and 2016 no new cases of bears kept in cages in Kosovo were reported.

Albania Learns From Neighbour’s Experience

Albania has a more problematic situation over bears kept in captivity. Around 50 bears are still stuck in various cages all over the country.

“One in six of all Albanian bears is in captivity and this is a very disturbing situation,” Megi Hafizi, from Animal Rescue Albania, ARSA, said.

A delegation from the Albanian Ministry of Environment, the Tirana Municipality and organisations protecting animals and the environment met in Pristina on Thursday to learn lessons on how a similar sanctuary can be set up in Tirana.

In April, the Ministry asked organisations in the region and in Europe to help it set up a shelter for rescued bears.

Some 18 bears were rescued or are in process of being rescued during 2016. The ministry was helped by Four Paws and by local organisations in this task.

But the process of sending bears abroad is costly and creating a sanctuary in Albania is essential if Albania wants to rescue all the bears now stuck in captivity.

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The Albanian Ministry of Environment, Four Paws and Tirana Municipality are now in the process of building a centre. Mt Dajti near Tirana is considered the best location.

“We have identified an area of 17 hectares on Mt Dajti, which is considered a strategic position for creating a centre like that,” Artenisa Peculaj, a specialist from the national agency for protected areas, said.

What is missing is money. Based on the Kosovo experience, more than one million euros will be needed to start a bear sanctuary and the high annual cost is calculated to run to several hundred thousand euros.

The Pristina sanctuary spent 160,000 euros during 2015 on bear food and maintenance alone.

Albanian institutions are hoping to gather enough donations for the creation of this centre, as financing it from the state budget is not an option.

Originally reported by BalkanInsight.

Remember, no issue has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all investment matters ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialised units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Gregor Novak,
Deputy Global Director, No. 11,
Operations Research & Implementation Division,
Email : deputy.gd.11@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1946
Social Media : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook

For Queries Specific to the EU Region :
Email : eu@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.eu
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
Monday to Friday : 10.00 – 17.00 CET.
Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
Sunday : Closed.

The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.

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