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Albanian Wildlife: Top 10 Animals That Roam in Albania

Albanian wildlife is rich in mid-size mammals and flying species. However, most of these precious creatures are endangered and serious measures are required to conserve them and their habitats: here are the most authentic species that roam across Albania.

1. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

The golden eagle is a national symbol of Albania, a country also known as the “land of the eagles”. In the very flag of the Albanian Republic, stands a fictional stylized double headed golden eagle. This majestic predator soars the Albanian skies and dives dramatically from high altitude to hunt hares, rabbits, and even grab and stun a baby goat.

Although an apex predator, the golden eagle is also endangered because of illegal trading and loss of natural habitat. In recent decades the number of golden eagle couples has halved in number. Yet, the golden eagle continues to thrive in the rocky peaks of the Albanian Alps. The large raptor has broad wings with a span of 1.8 to about 2.5 meters (5.9 to 8.2 feet) and is colored in dark brown, some gray in inner parts, and gold in its crown. 

The golden eagle is the national symbol of Albania.

2. Lynx (Lynx lynx)

Lynx known among natives as “Rrëqebulli Ballkanik” is a typical unique species with precious habitats along the Balkans. In Albania, the largest such habitat is in Shebenik-Jabllanicë  National Park. This wild feline stands out for its fluffy gray coat, pointy fur ears, and sharp teeth. The majestic creature is also on the red list of endangered species in southwestern Balkan countries, including Albania. Only recently the Albanian moratorium against poaching has given some results in that more lynx specimens are observed by trap cameras moving in their preferred habitats. 

Lynx is a typical unique species with precious habitats along the Balkans.

3. Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)

Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) known locally as “Kaproll” is a wild animal also present in Albanian territory. Although a synonym of natural beauty in Albanian tradition, this beautiful creature is intensively poached by the locals. Determined action is still much needed to preserve Kaproll in Albania. The peaceful deer prefers forested areas and high altitude meadows. Its agile body and feet allow the creature to move swiftly through forests and easily jump natural barriers. 

Roe deer is a wild animal also present in Albanian territory.

4. Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)

The Dalmatian pelican is the largest bird in the pelican family and among the largest bird species worldwide. Grey is the dominating color in its body and feathers with their lower mandible turning to red during breeding season. This pelican weights up to about 15 kilograms making it the heaviest flying creature in the world. It achieves a wingspan of 2.7 to 3.2 meters (8.8 to 10.4 feet). Some colonies of Dalmatian pelicans prefer the lagoon waters of Divjakë-Karavasta National Park in western Albania to breed. This beautiful rare creature is critically endangered in Albania and threatened in all other countries where they breed and migrate. 

Some colonies of Dalmatian pelicans prefer the lagoon waters of Divjakë-Karavasta National Park in western Albania.

5. Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra)

Chamois is a critically endangered population inhabiting steps of mountainous Albania. This rare mammal sub-specie is endemic in the Balkan peninsula. Intensive poaching represents the main threat to this creature, a threat that remains at similar levels in all Balkan countries. The largest chamois populations habitat spreads along the rough, remote, and steep terrain of north-east Albania, stretching beyond the border into western part of North Macedonia. Hiking enthusiasts are among the few people who witness the amazing climbing abilities of the chamois and many of them and other outdoor activists have urged its protection. 

Chamois is a rare mammal sub-specie endemic in the Balkan peninsula.

6. Brown bear (Ursus arctos)

Brown bear is the second largest type of the bear family, after polar bear. An adult male mammal reaches a weight from 250 kilograms to 860 kilograms. This lonely creature roams into Albania’s mountainous terrain and regions covered with forests and bushes. Brown bear has suffered from hunting and deforestation in Albania, threatening its very presence across the country. However, recent prohibitions of hunting and efforts to preserve forested areas have encouraged these proud mammals to recover and regenerate.

Brown bear photo captured by a trap camera in an Albanian forest.

7. Euroasian wolf (Canis lupus)

The Eurasian wolf is another carnivore roaming in the Albanian territory. This creature is hard to spot during summer as they move up the meadows but in winter an enthusiastic observer can notice their tracks in the snow and even begin to recognize the tracks of individual wolves. As expected, wolves prefer to wander in high altitude areas such as the northern Albanian Alps.  An estimated 400 wolf specimens live in the Albanian northern Alps, the largest such population in Europe. Yet, they remain endangered as many other wild animals in Europe.

An estimated 400 wolf specimens live in the Albanian northern Alps, the largest such population in Europe.

8. Albanian water frog (Pelophylax shqipericus)

Albanian water frog lives in freshwater marshes, swamps, and shorelines with dense vegetation. This small “prince” is native only to Albania and Montenegro. Although these frogs still hoop freely in their ponds, their habitat is threatened by infrastructure and agricultural developments. This endangered amphibious creature is colored in mostly green and light brown added with some large brown or black sports. Like many other water frogs it has webbed feet.     

Albanian water frog is native only to Albania and Montenegro.

9. Illyrian shepherd dog (Canis lupus familiaris) / Domesticated

Illyrian shepherd dog or “Qeni i Sharrit” (Sharr’s Dog) is a breed of the livestock guardian type named after the Sharr mountains. This breed has its root in the ancient and famous dog known as the Molossian dog. This race is typical of Albanian regions, especially in the northeastern most parts in high altitude and remote areas. The dog is fairly sizable, robust, and with a thick dense coat. It’s obviously ideal for protecting sheep flocks. This mastiff is reliable and friendly with people but territorial and loyal to its master.

Illyrian shepherd dog is a breed of the livestock guardian type named after the Sharr mountains.

10. Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

The sperm whale is a very rare creature, the largest of the toothed whales and largest toothed predator. This aquatic mammal weighs from 35 to 50 tons with a size comparable to that of a normal bus. These sea giants have the largest brain of any creature we know to have ever been on our planet. Scientists still know little about the behavior and physiology of such mammals. The sperm whale has been spotted in the Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park in southwestern coast of Albania. 

The sperm whale has been spotted in the Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park in southwestern coast of Albania. 

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