An educational course for the future tourist guides was carried out in Kočevsko region in March, in collaboration with the Opazujem-varujem project team, Tourist office Zavod Kočevsko and Slovenia Forest Service. During theoretical part of the course, the participants were informed about brown bear biology and ecology, monitoring techniques, damage prevention techniques and how to prevent bears from accessing anthropogenic food in order to decrease bear visitation to human settlements. Bear friendly label was presented along with recommendations for visiting core bear areas. Responsible bear watching was highlighted, as proper human behaviour in the core bear areas is crucial for pleasant experience of a trip to bear areas and contributes to bear conservation. Future tourist guides are the key actors for transferring this knowledge to the tourists.
In the practical part of the course, we went for a short hike in the bear habitat. Participants learnt about the signs of presence of bears and other forest species. We also visited a livestock breeder and a beekeeper, who effectively prevent bear-caused damage to their property with prevention measures, acquired within our project. The participants thus got in touch with all the aspects of living with bears and learnt about the importance of proper and constant use of prevention measures to ensure safety of both, human property and bears.