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In 2017 Bears in Mind was approached by Colin Bal, a veteran who was based in Bosnia in the nineties. In July of this year Colin and his peloton will visit Bosnia-Herzegovina again, but Colin wanted to connect the visit with a good mission. Nature in Bosnia-Herzegovina is beautiful and there are wild bears, although little is known about them. There are also bears kept in captivity. For Colin sufficient reasons to start ‘Operation Mackenzie’, to help bears in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the 6th of September 2017 Colin received his first cheque, from his employer. Ever since, Colin has been busy raising funds for bears in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bears in Mind has approached her contacts to determine what is needed for the bears there. We are very pleased that the first step has been made: research has started in February to assess captive bears in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

New research with a historical background

Since the rescue in the nineties of Mackenzie, a famous bear who lived in the Bear Forest, Bears in Mind received reports that other bears were kept in similar dire situations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Between 2002 and 2004, several reports were made by the military through  the Bear Alert database. In the following years Bears in Mind collected data of ten other situations where bears were kept captive at restaurants, next to fisheries or even in people’s backyards. Bears in Mind continued to look for solutions and started an awareness campaign in 2008 to put bears into a positive light with the people in Bosnia, with stakeholders like farmers and beekeepers, but also with hunters and the government. But that didn’t seem to be enough and there are still an unknown number of bears kept in captivity. Bears in Mind will work together with her locale partner to determine the number of bears kept in captivity in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The ultimate goal is to have a rescue centre build where all captive bears will be moved to. A team of two researchers will travel the entire country over the next three months to locate bears in need. They will use data from our Bear Alert database and also speak with local people who can provide important information on the location of captive bears. The data collected will be presented to the relevant governments. The goal is to rescue those bears and to have stricter laws in place to protect bears in Bosnia-Herzegovina.