Guardians of the Nature: How Hunters Protect the Wilderness

Youth Exchange, 21 – 28 March 2022

The project under the title ‘’Guardians of the Nature: How Hunters Protect the Wilderness’’ took place in a graphic scenery in Maribor in Slovenia, on 21/3/2022 – 28/3/2022 hosted by the Slovenian Association ‘’Lovska Družina Velika Nedelja (Hunting Association Velika Nedelja)’’. 

20 young participants from Serbia, Portugal, Slovenia, and Greece, united in a beautiful place in the nature of Slovenia in order to experience and learn more through non-formal activities about how to train and practice everyday in order to develop a creative, healthier and wider mind. Through these activities they tried to experience the daily life and the activities of the hunters and how they could contribute to the protection of the environment! Last, they learned plenty of new things regarding wildlife, nature and they came in touch with wild animals in a safe zone.

The purpose of the project is to educate participants on the contribution the hunters make to the maintenance and preservation of our natural environment and any applications in different countries. As hunting and related activities are still subject to many stereotypes that have accompanied them throughout history, this project will address aspects of hunting that have been overlooked, especially the role they play in protection of the natural environment and the species in it.

Objectives of the project

– Raise awareness about the importance of nature and environment.

– Develop a connection between the nature and wildlife.

– Learn about daily life and activities of a hunter.

– Learn about the importance of the hunters as guardians of the nature.

Workshops & Activities

Day 1

We started the first day of the activities, the 22nd of March, with some icebreaker games and fun activities. In the afternoon we discussed green practices within the participating countries and concluded the day with an intercultural evening.

Day 2

On the second day of the activities, 23th of March, we were invited to a reception by the Mayor of Ormož! The municipality of Občina Ormož presented to us the region of Jerusalem. That included, of course, some local wine and food tasting. We were visited by local media as well.

Day 3

We started the third day, 24th of March, with a lesson on bobcats in Slovenia, held by Tilen Hvala. Afterwards we visited the local ethnographic museum at Velika Nedelja Castle. In the afternoon we discovered how local fruit farmers are connected to hunters and finished our day with local wine tasting at Leskovar Winery.

Day 4

On Friday, March 25, 2022, Bostjan Pokorny presented us with deer  and wild boar species in Slovenia. After the lecture we conducted a workshop on stereotypes about hunters and hunting. Afterwards, we conducted a workshop where we shared our experiences on green practices within participating countries. In the afternoon our participants got the opportunity to evaluate the exchange. To conclude the day, we visited a part of the Nature 2000 area.

Day 5

On Saturday, we started the day by environment cleaning- our main event, THE GARBAGE HUNT. As part of the activity, we cleaned the hunting dogs’ practice tunnel and the surrounding area, prepared and installed birdhouses. After the activity we conducted a workshop to discuss what the work of hunters involves and their purpose. In the afternoon we conducted shooting training, all under the safe supervision of our hunters.

Day 6

On Sunday, the last day of the activities, we started the day by joining an event overlooking the removed animal headcount. It was a proper hunters’ event!

Day 7

Departure day for all participants…such an emotional day for everyone! We had our final meeting, we discussed the outcomes of this project and we started our journey back home.

As EKO, we are very grateful and we thank Katka from Lovska Družina Velika Nedelja for making this project happen and offering all participants an amazing interpersonal experience and lots of wonderful memories! Special thanks to the members of the hunting association for making this project so special and for giving all their amazing energy and knowledge into every session.

Last but not least, a big thank you to the EKO team – Aris, Marina, Marios, Georgios and Matthildi –  for being so open-minded, motivated, passionate and active and for giving the project’s backbone a heart!