River Buna

December 15, 2012   | Anketë / Anketa

Association for Protection of Aquatic Wildlife of Albania
Ecological Association “Kalimera”, Ulcinj, Montenegro
Prof. Dr. Dhimitër Dhora
MsD. Saimir Beqiraj
Dipl. Biol. Dritan Dhora
Publication under implementation of the project
“Restoration of regional fauna-forming role of transboundary River Buna”.
Financed by
Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe
(REC), Hungary.
Tirana, February 2001
Introduction Page 2
1. Geographical characteristics 3
1.1 River Buna and its watershed 3
1.2 Water regimen 4
1.3 Population and economy 4
2. Generalizations on biodiversity 6
3. Vegetation 8
3.1 Phytoplankton 8
3.2 Macrophyt aquatic vegetation 8
3.3 Forest vegetation 9
4. Animals 10
4.1 Invertebrates 10
4.1.1 Mollusks 10
4.2 Vertebrates 11
4.2.1 Fish 11
4.2.2 Amphibians 13
4.2.3 Reptiles 13
4.2.4 Birds 14
4.2.5 Mammals 16
5. The most important habitats 17
5.1 Reserve of Velipoja 17
5.2 Franz Joseph Island 17
5.3 Ada Island 17
5.4 Marsh of Domën 18
5.5 Other habitats 18
6. Threats to biodiversity 19
6.1 Threatened species 19
6.2 Threatening factors 21
7. Bibliography 22
The report “On biodiversity of River Buna” is published in the framework of
implementation of the project “Restoration of regional fauna-forming role of
transboundary River Buna”.
This project is under implementation from the Association for Protection of Aquatic
Wildlife of Albania, in collaboration with Ecological Association “Kalimera”, Ulcinj,
This is the first publication of a report on biodiversity of the River Buna. For its
preparation are used different data from the literature, information from the consultants of
this project based on the direct verification of the situation in the ecosystem, as well as
data from other reports and materials on biodiversity in national level, realized in
previous project of several institutions and organizations.
A considerable part of the data, discussions and conclusions are an original
contribute of the authors themselves.
This report will be useful for realization of different activities of the project, but
especially for understanding the problematic, strategy, and duties for preservation of
natural values of River Buna in general and its biodiversity in particular.
We hope this report would be useful also for experts in their further studies of the
River Buna, for the schools of different levels to increase the knowledge on this river, as
well for the institutions, organizations and associations in their most complex projects.
This report will be distributed to the institutions, organizations and associations
which works in the field of biodiversity and environment and several libraries in Albania
and Montenegro.
We acknowledge all who enable the realization of this report, especially the
consultants Prof.Dr. Lefter Kashta, Dr. Taulant Bino, Islam Laçaj, Hajrullah Shabani and
Maksud Haxhibrahimi.
Tirana, February 2001
1.1 River Buna and its watershed
The River Buna runs in the last south-west segment of the Albanian – Montenegrin
border. This river springs from Lake of Skadar, quite close to the city of Skadar
(Shkoder), between the hill of “Rozafa” Castle and Taraboshi Mountain. Buna is the only
emissary of the Skadar Lake.
First, Buna runs to the south, alongside Taraboshi, further it snakes toward west and
then it takes again the south direction, up to its mouth in Adriatic Sea.
The Albanian – Montenegrin border traverses the River Buna from village Samrish
in Albania and Gorica in Montenegro, continuing up to the river mouth.
The river has a length of 44 km and flows along the fields of Bregu i Bunës,
including the Field of Anamali on the right side of the river and both Field of Trushi and
Field of Velipoja on the left. The fields of Bregu i Bunës have a field Mediterranean
climate, of 1600 – 1800 mm rainfall per year and an average temperature of the air of 16
– 18 ºC, with the minimal absolute extreme of 0 ºC up to – 4 ºC.
Buna is the only river with a real natural delta in Albania. In its delta is created Ada
Island, which divides the river in two branches flowing to the sea. Ada and the right
branch belong to Montenegro. Franz Joseph Island and Unnamed Island, quite close to
Ada, belong to Albania.
The water of River Buna in its beginning comes from the Skadar Lake, whose water
is mostly provided from Moraça River, running from Montenegro, but with a branch
called Cemi River, in Albania.
In a distance of 1,3 km from its spring in Skadar Lake, Buna joints the River Drin,
which has a length of 285 km. The main branches of Drin are Shala River in Albanian
Alps, Valbona River in north-east of Albania, White Drin in Kosovo and Black Drin in
Macedonia. The last one springs from Ohrid Lake, which provides its water from Prespa
Lake. In the last part of Drin is jointed the River Kir which flows from Dukagjini
Obviously, the River Buna takes water from a hydrographic net very complex,
which lies almost in the 1/5 of Balkan Peninsula, in Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo,
Macedonia and Greece.
Although Buna is a typical field river, known as a partially navigable river, it
gathers waters from a very mountainous territory. The average altitude of this area is 909
m above see level.
A high number of streams runs from Anamali side to Buna, whose the longest is the
Stream of Milla, at a length of 25 km, and the second is the Stream of Megjureç at a
length of 21,6 km. In Buna flows also the water from Lake of Shas in Montenegro,
through Vija e Shëngjergjit.
1.2 Water regimen
The water regimen of Buna River is defined from water regimen of Skadar Lake,
River Drin and Delta of Buna.
The water regimen of Skadar Lake is related to the water balance of this lake and
the changes of regimen of Buna itself in the joint place with Drin.
The average depth of Skadar Lake varies from 4,39 m to 9,40 m. Buna takes water
from the lake at an average of 320 m3/sec., but after joining with Drin the water capacity
becomes 680 m3/sec. When the water capacity is high, the water flowing from the lake is
blocked. In such cases, the lake reaches its maximal water capacity, meanwhile Buna get
out of its bed and floods the fields. This phenomenon was particularly problematic in the
past, when the maximal water capacity was over 7500 m3/sec. After the construction of
hydroelectric stations on River Drin, the floods are obviously decreased.
Thus, River Buna – Skadar Lake – River Drin, form a hydraulic joint very
interesting, which defines the water regimen of one of the rivers with the biggest water
capacity in Mediterranean.
Water regimen of delta is defined from the relation of water flow of Buna with
talasographic parameters. One of these parameters, waving regimen, is related to the
wind. In general, in waving influence mostly the winds at e speed of 10 – 20 m/sec.,
which are more frequent and steady.
Variations of see level, as another parameter, is linked to some other indices such as
water balance, tangential strength of the wind, phenomenon of tide etc.
The average amplitude of daily variations of water level is 20 – 30 cm.
Sea currents are another factor and they vary at an average speed of 0,20 – 0,30
The transport of sea and river sediments is another parameter which is known as
very active. The seaside and River Buna are characterized by strong processes of
accumulation and abrasion.
Buna is a river with a slow flow, because inclination of water flow is small. The
average of inclination is 1,2 m/km. Big water capacity and soft consistence of the river
bed have been factors of the erosion. This process, more evident in the upstream of the
river, has been the cause for creation of meanders. The main meanders are those of
Shënrrok, Suka e Shën Levrenit, Oblika, Darragjat, Obot, Gorica, Rrushkull, Belaj,
Fraskanjel, Shëngjergj, Qurkaj and Reç.
Buna is a river with a small depth, especially in 12 km of the upstream where are
some islands.
1.3 Population and economy
The south-west edge of the city of Skadar, at over 140.000 inhabitants, reaches the
place of Buna spring in Skadar Lake. This city, over two thousand years old, is known in
Europe for the navigation and commerce through Buna.
Along Buna sides there are 20 villages with a total population of 15.000 inhabitants.
This area was populated mostly after the XV century and especially after the XVII
century. But most intensively it was populated during the last five decades.
Traditional economy was based on agronomic and animal breeding products, such
as silk, cereals, olive oil, wine, honey, beeswax, fish, leather, wool etc., which have been
transported through Buna toward European countries.
These areas close to the town of Skadar and Ulcinj, have a civilized and cultured
These areas own irreplaceable natural values, which are an important factor for a
sustainable development.
Nowadays the economy is still based on agricultural and animal breeding products,
whose main products are cereals, potatoes, bean, different vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs,
for its own necessities of the population, but also for trade within the country. Fishing is
not much developed. Tourism is in its first steps, because of the lack of tradition and
Last years, a notable importance has the rousing of interest for using the river and
its sides for tourism, increasing the elaboration of agricultural and animal breeding
products, transport and communication between populations in two sides of Buna,
belonging to two countries.
! The River Buna, as a short field river of Adriatic basin, has its living world.
Hypersensitive water regimen, connection of Buna with a large and complex
hydrological net and its geographic position as well, are the main causes for the
important ecogeographical and especially faunistic role of this river in the peninsula
and continent.
The most essential characteristic is the great number of consortiums. The most
prominent phenomenon is the biological migration. Considering all these factors, the
living world of Buna takes manifold worthies.
! Buna is a field navigable river, with a big water capacity and nutrients. For
this reason, phytoplankton, microfauna, zoobenthos, and macrophyt vegetation of the
river sides are generally developed. Its ichthiofauna is predominated by the
Cyprinidae family.
Buna is among rare rivers with a real natural delta in Adriatic. Big alluviums,
rich in nitrogen and phosphor, are the main cause for the abundance of phyto and
zooplankton, fish and crabs, in the brackish water of the river mouth.
! Macrophyt vegetation of Buna is concentrated mostly in the river sides before
joining Drin, in some water loops with relatively quiet water and also in the marshes
near the delta. This kind of vegetation includes three group-associations of plants:
submerge, floating and emerge. Especially spread is the reed Phragmites australis.
The most interesting areas of forest vegetation are in Reserve of Velipoja and
islands of Ada and Franz Joseph. These represent the remained areas of mixed and
spontaneous forests which have covered all the area in the past. The predominated
species belong to the genus Fraxinus, Quercus, Alnus, Ulmus, Cornus, Populus,
Salix, Tamarix.
! Buna, in general, has sandy–silt shore. Alongside the river there are no
important springs or underground flowing waters. Because of these conditions, there
are not many ecological niches in Buna and it is not characterized as a river with a
high diversity of invertebrates, as we can assume, for example, for Skadar Lake.
! Buna is the only trunk and sea root of the complex hydrological net of the
South-West Balkan. This net includes Buna River, Lake of Skadar, Moraça River in
Montenegro, Cemi River, Drini River and Kiri River in Albania, branch of White
Drin which comes from Kosovo, branch of Black Drin coming from Ohrid Lake and
then the two lakes of Prespa in Albania, Macedonia and Greece, as well as many river
branches, streams, artificial lakes, channels, marshes etc.
For this reason, Buna is not characterized simply for its ichtic biodiversity, but
particularly for its ichthiofauna-forming role. Through Buna pass 13 species and
subspecies of migratory fish toward the sea. Through Buna passes also a part of fresh
water fish which reproduce in Drin and its springs. Buna enables the communication of
Skadar Lake with all this net, including the other lakes mentioned above. This
communication explains the presence of elements of Ohrid and Prespa in Buna and
Skadar Lake, as well as the entry of new fish species from the north or east in this net.
! Buna, especially along its downstream, is accompanied by a water complex.
Among them we mention the marshes in Velipoja Reserve, Murtemza, Domën, Shtoji
i Poshtem, Lake of Shas, waters of salt-mine of Ulcinj and many connecting channels
between them. Especially the sides of these waters are rich in trees, reedbeds, rushes
and large-leaf floating plants.
These areas are very rich in wintering, nesting and migratotry waterfowls. The
total number of individuals of birds counted in Buna is about 8.000. But this water
complex can not be considered separated from Skadar Lake and other rivers connected to
this. Furthermore, Buna is an interesting corridor through which communicates avifauna
of water complex of Buna downstream with that of Skadar Lake. The avifauna of this
complex communicates closely with that of coastal lagoons of Vilun, Kune, Vain and
All this area, not so large, has a bird capacity that can be considered as a
record in European scale, surpassing the Danube delta and qualified among the
richest areas in Southern and Eastern Europe.
These waters are also an important station in one of the migratory roads for
the birds of Europe, the road which passes over Balkan.
Buna with its water complex, represents a rare case in Europe for bird
biodiversity, high dynamic and high generative potential. Its important fauna-forming
role is expressed clearly in massive migration and bird nesting.
! Buna, despite the lack of its own endemisms, is a reserve for other endemic
species and subspecies of larger areals. Among them we mention the endemic plants
Quercus robur scutariensis and Trapa longicarpa scutariense (= Trapa natans), the
fish Pachychilon pictum and several others coming from Ohrid and Prespa lakes, as
well as three endemic frogs of Balkan and several terrestrial reptiles.
! Genetic diversity of Buna River is not satisfactory studied. In some groups of
animals, such as Amphipoda, Mollusca, Pisces, Amphibia, Reptilia etc., there is a
considerable number of subspecies and forms, as an evidence of polymorphism
within populations, hybrid forms etc. These are examples of genetic diversity and
evolutionary developments through natural selection.
3.1 Phytoplankton
The River Buna has an abundant water mass, quiet flow and water rich in nutrients.
For this reason, its plankton is very richer compared to many rivers in the region.
In Buna we distinguish the two extreme segments characterized by a higher
phytoplanktonic diversity. The part of outflow from Skadar Lake has a superficial slow
flow. Its marshy sides are full in aquatic vegetation submerse or floating leaves. Right on
the leaves of these plants is found the most part of phytoplanktonic species, meanwhile a
very few species are found in flowing water in the middle part of the river.
The main groups of phytoplankton are Chlorophyta, where predominates
Pediastrum, Diatome, presented mostly by Cyclotella and Synedra, Cyanophyta, with
predomination of Microcystis and Merismopedia. In the eutrophic river sides and
marshes, during hot season, is found an abundance of Oshillatoria and Navicula.
In the last part of the river, in the delta, where the alluviums are higher, is found
also a rich phytoplankton. Here, both phytoplankton and zooplankton compose the basic
level for the whole food web of the estuary.
3.2 Macrophyt aquatic vegetation
The associations of aquatic plants of Buna River can be divided in three groups.
The group of submerse macrophytes includes mainly species of the genus Potamogeton,
Myriophyllum, Najas, Vallisneria etc. These are plant associations found deeper in the
water, most abundant in the upstream of Buna.
The other group includes macrophytes with floating leaves. In these associations are
present Nymphaea alba, Nuphar luteum, Trapa natans and Nymphoides peltata. These
associations are in shallower water, in the upstream of Buna, Marsh of Domën, Reserve
of Velipoja and some channels connected to Buna.
The third group includes helofitic plants, half-submerse, with roots and a part of the
stalk into the water, but the most part is out of the water. Among the main plants of this
group are Phragmites australis, Typha etc. These plants are abundant along Buna sides,
especially in the marshy areas.
Often, along Buna fields are present associations of Phragmites, Alisma, and
Schoenoplechtus. Among them are found also small areas with Nuphar luteum and
Nymphoides peltata. In deeper water there are submerse plants of Ceratophyllum,
Myriophyllum, Potamogeton etc.
In the small summer ponds along Buna sides, there are associations of floating
plants of the genus Lemna (L. minor and L. gibba) and Spirodella.
Very interesting are the associations of Trapa natans in the part of the river near its
outflow from Skadar Lake, below “Rozafa” Castle. This plant predominates in a
considerable area, accompanied by Spirodella polyrhiza, Lemna minor and
Ceratophyllum. Rare in these areas is present also Nuphar luteum and Polygonum
In a small island there is an association of Leucojum aestivum, which is one of the
most typical associations of this species in Albania.
Along Buna flow, behind the joint with Drin, macrophyt aquatic vegetation is
poorer. The most present species in this part are Potamogeton nodosus, Potamogeton
pectinatus, Potamogeton perfoliatus, Groenlandia densa etc. Meanwhile, in water loops
are present other species of genus Phragmites, Butomus, Potamogeton, and Vallisneria.
Also in outfall of the river there is a dense association of helofits, especially with
Phragmites, Typha and in some places also Vallisneria spiralis, Potamogeton crispus,
Groenlandia densa, Myriophyllum, as well as a dense bed of Charophyceae.
3.3 Forest vegetation
The considerations for the forest vegetation of Buna River are spare. Since several
decades, the forest areas along river sides are diminished.
In general, we think that along Buna sides exists a surface at about 20 ha forest
trees. In many places, this surface is also damaged, but it figures coppice or new sowed.
This area consists mostly of Salix and less of Robinia, Populus and much less of
Real forest, relatively protected, we find in the small island in Bahçallek, Velipoja
Reserve, Franz Joseph Island, Ada Island and less in Shënkoll and Reç-Sutjel.
In general in these areas we find different species of Salix and Populus, Fraxinus
excelsior, Fraxinus angustifolia, Quercus robur, Alnus glutinosa, Ulmus campestris,
Cornus sanguinea, Cornus mas, Tamarix parviflora and many other cultivated trees, such
as Populus, Pinus, Robinia etc.
Reserve of Velipoja is an important forest area in Buna sides. This reserve, at a
surface 170 ha, is already stabilized. Within the reserve there are areas of mixed forest,
virgin and spontaneous, very interesting, which consist mostly of Ulmus and Fraxinus,
but also of Populus and Pinus planted along the routes of the reserve and seaside. In the
marshes of this reserve predominates Tamarix.
The Island of Bahçallek, too, created from the alluviums of Buna and Drin, is very
interesting. It is covered by a willowy area, compound of five species: Salix treandra,
Salix pentandra, Salix alba, Salix purpurea, Salix fragilis.
A bit far from Buna, on the hills of Anamali and Kraja in the one side and Maja e
Zezë above Viluni on the other one, there are some other nice forest areas predominated
by Quercus trojana, Fraxinus ornis and Carpinus orientalis.
Except mollusks, the invertebrates of River Buna are not studied neither in
taxonomical aspect nor biological aspect in general. The studies are partial, mostly of
practical and ecological character.
Buna River, in general, has soft consistence sides, sandy and silty. It is not
considered as a river with a high number of ecological niches. Fauna of invertebrates, as
an ecological indicator, characterizes better this river. Its specializations in Buna River
are minimal.
Zooplankton, like in Skadar Lake, consists mostly of different groups of Protozoa,
Rotatoria and Entomostraca.
The richest is microfauna of marshy sides and ponds close to the river.
The zoobenthos of the river is compound mostly of groups of Oligochaeta,
Mollusca, Crustacea and Insecta.
Among Malacostraca, the most common are Palaemonetes and Atyaphyra which
live in places with vegetation, and Astacus in cool water.
Zoobenthic enthomofauna is presented by larvae of the orders Ephemeroptera,
Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Diptera. Especially in running water is found Chinotanypus
nervosus, meanwhile in still water in eutrophic sides, in mud, is found also Chironomus
4.1.1 Mollusks (Mollusca)
The mollusks of Buna River belong to several groups. Prosobranchs of the genus
Theodoxus, Viviparus, Valvata, Bithynia, Holandriana and any other species of other
groups, such as Dreissena blanci, Planorbis, Stagnicola etj., are found often among
submerse macrophytes. In the water of marshes and ponds of Buna, the most common are
Viviparus mamillatus, Planorbarius corneus, Lymnaea stagnalis, Stagnicola palustris,
Radix auricularia etc. In the shallow water with a little vegetation, more often are found
Radix ovata, Galba truncatula, Physella acuta, Planorbis planorbis etc. Bivalves of the
family Unionidae are found mostly in soft sandy-silty sides and in the marshes.
Theodoxus fluviatilis and Dreissena blanci are found also caught on hard objects in water
or rocks.
Main mollusks of the River Buna
Theodoxus fluviatilis Lymnaea stagnalis
Viviparus mamillatus Stagnicola palustris
Valvata piscinalis Radix ovata
Bithynia tentaculata Radix auricularia
Holandriana holandrii Unio crassus
Physella acuta Unio elongatulus
Planorbis planorbis Anodonta cygnaea
Planorbarius corneus Microcondylaea compressa
Galba truncatula Dreissena blanci
It is important to stress the fact that three species Unio crassus, Unio elongatus and
Microcondylaea compressa are considered as globally threatened species.
The estuary of Buna is also rich in mollusks. Particularly the malacofauna of the
estuary is predominated by bivalves, what is a result of the abundance of phytoplankton
in this part.
4.2.1 Fish (Pisces)
It is a rare example for the geographical Mediterranean subregion, but also in global
scale, that a field river, quite short, in the mean-warm climatic belt, has a so rich
Buna is an ideal case which connects not only the waters, but especially the
ichthiofaunas of some ecosystems of regional importance.
Buna is a premise for the existence of a complex of ecogeographical consortiums,
playing different roles for ichthiofauna-forming in larger aquatic areas.
Through Buna pass from Skadar Lake to the Adriatic Sea and vice-versa 13 species
and subspecies of migratory fish. This is an intensive biological migration realized by big
populations of these species, mainly in spring and autumn, toward fresh water and
especially Skadar Lake.
Among them, we distinguish the sturgeon Acipenser sturio, which is a globally
threatened species.
Also Platichthys flesus luscus is a sea fish, migrating to Skadar Lake, whose
population decreases more and more, because of the difficulties to enter in Buna, caused
by the alluvium blockage of the downstream and also by fishing beyond criterions. This
species is actually a threatened species for the River Buna and Skadar Lake.
The most important migratory fish are: Alosa falax nilotica, Anguilla anguilla,
Dicentrarchus labrax, Mugil cephalus and Liza ramada. These species has an
economical importance, too, as they are among the most preferred by trade. Fishing
beyond criterions, especially with a high number of weirs and other barriers, or with
exterminating means became threatening factors for fish, especially for its migration and
Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii) is found in small amount, up to Buna
upstream and sometimes in Skadar Lake, too. According to literature, starry sturgeon
(Acipenser stellatus) is also found in Skadar Lake, what proves its presence in Buna, too.
The lampreys, especially river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis) and sea lamprey
(Petromyzon marinus) pass through Buna to Skadar Lake. In the fish lists of Skadar Lake
figures also Lampetra planeri, what proves the presence of this species in Buna, too, as it
migrates to the sea, like other lampreys mentioned above.
In the literature is written that in Montenegrin part of the lake is found Citharus
linguatula. This is a doubtful case, because this species is known as a marine one.
List of migratory fish of River Buna
Lampetra fluviatilis Anguilla anguilla
Lampetra planeri Dicentrarchus labrax
Petromyzon marinus Mugil cephalus
Acipenser sturio Liza ramada
Acipenser naccarii Platichthys flesus luscus
Acipenser stellatus Citharus linguatula (?)
Alosa falax nilotica
Another group, with at least 30 species of fresh water fish, populates Buna River.
Almost all these species are found also in Skadar Lake.
The separating margins between the river and lake can not be easily defined. This is
clearly evident if we compare the ecological conditions of intermediate part between
them. A reflex of this, is also the same consistence of their ichthiofauna, at least in
particular segments. Almost 70% of the species of the river belong to cyprinids (Family
Cyprinidae). This fact shows the subtropical lake character of the ichthiofauna of Buna
River. Among the most important fish we mention the carp (Cyprinus carpio) as the most
characteristic fish of Skadar, Carassius auratus gibelio imported from Asia to the lake,
three decades ago, which already occupied many European waters, Alburnus alburnus
alborella, Scardinus erythrophthalmus scardafa, Leuciscus cephalus albus, Perca
fluviatilis entered in Buna through Drin. The River Buna is the most southern part of
distribution of this last species in our geographical longitude.
A particular interests has also Pachychilon pictum, as a local endemic species.
In Buna, there are also fish species entered through Drin from Ohrid and Prespa
lakes, such as Barbus meridionalis petenyi, Alburnoides bipunctatus ohridanus,
Chondrostoma nasus ohridanus, Rutilus rubilio rubilio, Rutilus prespensis vukovici,
Gobitis taenia ohridana etc.
Another interesting group of fish of Buna is that of marine species found in the
outfall of the river. Buna unloads a huge amount of alluviums in its outfall. Substances
rich in nitrogen and phosphor, brought from Drin and Buna, characterize the estuary of
Buna as the most productive estuary in Adriatic. This is the reason of fish abundance,
about 50 species, in the river mouth.
From this group we can mention especially the fish of big measures, such as Lichia
amia, Thunnus thynnus thynnus, Argyrosomus regius etc.
Some other species in the estuary of Buna are:
Engraulis encrasicholus Lithognathus mormyrus
Aphanius fasciatus Symphodus cinereus
Syngnathus tenuirostris Gobius niger
Sciaena umbra Atherina hepsetus
Umbrina cirrosa Solea vulgaris
Diplodus sargus sargus
Considering what we wrote above, the number of fish species counted in Buna and
waters connected to it, reaches almost 100. Nevertheless, this number is still relative. The
water brought from Buna affects a large sea area. High diversity and abundance of fish in
Buna outfall has drawn the attention of fishermen of Shëngjin for a long time, who have
as a priority the itinerary toward Buna mouth.
When we evaluate the ichthiofauna of Buna River, we should consider also the
interesting ichthiofauna of the waters connected to Buna. Interesting ichthiofauna is
present in Lagoon of Viluni, Lake of Shas, Porta Milena, Marsh of Domën, Murtemza
Summarizing, we can say that the hydrological complex of Buna River holds one of
the most interesting fish resources in Adriatic, Balkan and very considered in all the
4.2.2 Amphibians (Amphibia)
Buna River with marshes, ponds and channels nearby, are suitable habitats for the
amphibian fauna. This field area is characterized by an abundance of amphibians. The
most predominant species are Bufo viridis, Rana lessonae and Rana balcanica.
Since this area communicates with other large areas surrounding, amphibian fauna
of Buna has the characteristics of a faunistic diversity of a very large field area.
The list of amphibians of Buna is compound of 11 species, but the expected number
might be higher. Here are included 3 species of tailed amphibian (Caudata) and 8 tailless
species of them (Anura).
A special importance of a biogeographical character has the presence of the four
examples of endemisms. Rana balcanica and Rana graeca are endemic species of
Balkan. Bombina variegata scabra is an endemic subspecies of Balkan, living in southern
part of the peninsula. Triturus vulgaris graecus is a subendemic subspecies of Balkan.
List of amphibians of Buna
Salamandra salamandra Hyla arborea
Triturus cristatus Rana dalmatina
Triturus vulgaris Rana graeca
Bombina variegata Rana lessonae
Bufo bufo Rana balcanica
Bufo viridis
4.2.3 Reptilians (Reptilia)
Up to now, in the water of Buna are found three species of reptilians: Emys
orbicularis, Natrix natrix persa and Natrix tessellata. These species are common also for
the waters along Buna sides. These are important species with a large distribution. The
first two species are found almost in the entire Europe, and the third one in south-east of
the continent.
The most part of reptilians of Buna area are terrestrial. This group plays an
important role in many ecological components, in food web of different ecosystems and
species, in the qualities of populations and relations between species of other
The studies show that in Buna watershed are found 18 reptilian species, whose the
biggest number of individuals belongs to the genus Lacerta, Elaphe and Coluber. This
diversity is conditioned by the hot summer temperatures, diversity of habitats, structural
formations of the ground, vegetation which shelters them and their plenty food.
This fauna has high scientific worth, what is evident when the evaluations are made
in a larger taxonomical and zoogeographical aspect.
This area is an important reserve for the endemic values of Balkan. Podarcis
muralis albanica is a subendemic form of Balkan. Telescopus fallax fallax is an endemic
species of Balkan. Elaphe quatuorlineata quatuorlineata is a subendemic subspecies of
Balkan. Elaphe situla is also a subendemism of Balkan.
Also for the viper Vipera ammodytes are defined two subspecies which are endemic
for Balkan: Vipera ammodytes illyrica and the most spread one Vipera ammodytes
Coluber najadum dahli represents a subspecies of Coluber najadum which is
endemic for Balkan.
List of reptilians of Buna area
Testudo hermanni Elaphe quatuorlineata
Emys orbicularis Elaphe situla
Lacerta viridis Elaphe longissima
Podarcis taurica Coluber caspius
Podarcis muralis Coluber gemonensis
Anguis fragilis Coluber najadum
Ophisaurus apodus Natrix natrix
Malpolon monspessulanus Natrix tessellata
Telescopus fallax Vipera ammodytes
4.2.4 Birds (Aves)
It is indispensable to examine the situation of avifauna of Buna taking into
consideration all the waters connected to the river and the vegetation where avifauna
nests and takes shelter.
Along Buna sides there is a forest belt, which is an important habitat for birds.
Especially in its last part, Buna is accompanied by a water complex, among which it is
worthy to stress the marshes of Velipoja Reserve, Murtemza, Domën, Shtoj i Poshtëm,
Lake of Shas, salt-mine of Ulcinj and many connecting channels. The sides of these
waters are rich in trees, reedbeds, rushes and large-leaf floating plants. These habitats are
very rich in wintering, nesting and migratory waterfowl. The total number of individuals
of bird counted in winter aspect in river sides is 8.000. But these area should be
considered much larger. In Velipoja, quite close to Buna, are counted 5.000 individuals
of birds. In its other extreme, Buna is connected to Skadar Lake. Buna is an interesting
corridor through which communicates the avifauna of the water complex of last part of
Buna with the avifauna of Skadar Lake.
This lake has a big capacity of birds. In its Albanian part are counted about 24.000
individuals and in its Montengerin part 224.000 individuals of birds.
Thus, the total number of individuals of birds in all the area connected to Buna,
reaches about 261.000. This is the area with the biggest bird capacity in Southern and
Eastern Europe, ranged after Anholt and Meadle Kattegat (Denmark) and Boden See
(Germany), in European scale.
The avifauna of this area communicates closely with that of Kune-Vain and also
with many waters connected to the River Drin.
In the river sides and the waters quite close to it, are counted about 170 bird species.
The half of this number belongs to Passeriformes, then, the highest species number
belongs to Falconiformes and Anseriformes.
In the wetland area of Buna are counted over 50 species of waterbirds. Among
them, at the highest number of individuals result:
Tachybaptus ruficollis Aythya ferina
Phalacrocorax pygmaeus Bucephala clangula
Anas penelope Fulica atra
Anas platyrhynchos Vanellus vanellus
Anas clypeata Larus ridibundus
Anas crecca
Referring to the counting of the years 1993 and 1995 in the Albanian part of the
river, results that some bird species, despite their low number of individuals, represent an
importance of regional scale. For example, 19 individuals of Larus miutus counted in
Buna are 11% of the total number of this species in all Mediterranean. Buna is the only
found location of this species in Albania.
Also, 51 individuals of Sterna sandvicensis are 4,2% of the total number of this
species in Mediterranean and 85% in Albania.
For other species, such as Anas penelope, Anas clypeata, Bucephala clangula and
Phalacrocorax pygmeus, comparing the small area of Buna sides with the total
distribution area of these species, we can say that the individuals counted in Buna have a
percentage which is of interest in global or regional scale.
Over 76% of species of Buna are migratory. This area has an important
biogeographical position. It is an important station in one of the three migratory roads of
the birds of Europe, the road passing over Balkan.
About 29% of bird species of Buna are nesting species. Formerly, this area was
much more interesting than now in the aspect of bird nesting, because the damages and
degradations of habitats have obviously decreased this phenomenon. Nesting of many
species, such as Egretta garzetta, Ardea cinerea, Platalea leucorodia, Phalacrocorax
carbo, Phalacrocorax pygmeus and many species of Charadriformes is very doubtful in
the Albanian part. Meanwhile, in Montenegrin part in Lake Shas, Shtoj and salt-mine,
these species nest intensively, but the threatening factors are present there, too.
Nearly the half of waterbird species of Buna are included in the lists of endangered
birds. Among them, Aythya nyroca and Phalacrocorax pygmeus are globally threatened
Buna with the water complex connected to it, represents a rare case in Europe for
bird biodiversity values, high dynamic and high generative potential.
4.2.5 Mammals (Mammalia)
Otter (Lutra lutra) is a rare mammal of Buna River. This globally threatened
species, has been found several times last decades in Buna.
In the two sides of the river, as terrestrial mammals are found Lepus capensis,
Vulpes vulpes, Canis aureus, Meles meles, Mustela nivalis, Sus scrofa and some species
of rats and bats.
5.1 Rezerve of Velipoja
Reserve of Velipoja is situated in the edge between delta of Buna and Adriatic Sea,
in Albania.
In the reserve there are four shallow marshes. The most part of planty surface of the
water is covered by the associations of Phragmites and Typha. In deeper water are found
also associations of Nymphaea.
Water of the reserve shelters the endangered plants Baldelia ranunculoides,
Hydrocharis morsus- ranae and Utricularia vulgaris.
The most prominent characteristic of vegetation of this reserve is the forest. All
over reserve there are areas of Tamarix and different bushes.
In the part of the reserve near Buna, there is a mixed and dense forest of Alnus,
Ulmus, Cornus, Fraxinus etc.
The reserve owns a high richness of birds, where the most abundant are the genus
Aythya, Anas, Fulica, Podiceps, Phalacrocorax, Egretta etc.
5.2 Franz Joseph Island
This is a sandy island in the Albanian part of delta of Buna, at variable shape and
size, at surface about 4,5 ha. Last years its surface is diminishing because of the erosion.
Among aquatic macrophytes predominate the helofits Phragmites, Typha, Iris
pseudocorus, Alisma plantago aquatica.
The island is covered by a forest vegetation predominated mainly by Populus and
In the island live and nest different wetland birds, but because of the damages, noise
and human presence, the colony of herons and cormorants has left the island and has
moved in suitable habitats in the Montenegrin part.
5.3 Ada Island
Ada is an island at a surface about 4 km2, in the delta of Buna in Montenegrin part.
This island has some small marshes, whose vegetation is predominated by the
associations of Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia, family Juncaceae and
Cyperaceae, as well as species of the genus Iris and Alisma.
The most interesting forest vegetation consists of Fraxinus and Alnus. In this island
there are also Pinus, Populus and other decorative trees.
Among the most abundant birds in the island are Tachybaptus ruficollis, Aythya
ferina, Fulica atra, Phalacrocorax pygmeus, Ardea cinerea, Egretta garzetta, Egretta
alba etc.
Ada is a touristic place, where is invested in infrastructure, in the framework of the
tourism development in the district of Ulcinj.
5.4 Marsh of Domën
In this marsh 60% of the surface is predominated by the associations of Phragmites
australis and Typha angustifoilia. The main accompanying species are Sparganium
erectum, Schoenoplectus lacustris, Myriophyllum spicatum, Ceratophyllum demersum,
Utricularia vulgaris etc.
Here are present endangered and rare species for Albania, such as Sagittaria
sagittifolia, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, Lemna trisulcata, Spirodella polyrhiza,
Nymphaea alba, and in the channels near this marsh is spread the association of Trapa
In the shallower water of the marsh are found different species of Charophyceae.
The Marsh of Domën has not forest vegetation.
The most common birds of the marsh are Tachybaptus ruficollis, Phalacrocorax
pygmeus, Egretta garzetta, Egretta alba, Gallinago gallinago, and Larus ridibundus. In
the reedbeds are sheltered many paseriforms and falconiforms, where the most abundant
are those of genus Circus.
5.5 Other habitats
Along Buna sides, especially along its downstream, there are some other smaller
but important areas in the aspect of natural values.
Island of Bahçallek situates near the village with the same name and it is known
for its exuberant forest vegetation, compound of many species of Salix.
Marsh of Murtemza in the past has represented a system of marshes, well-known
for fish, ducks and nice vegetation, especially with Nymphaea alba and Phragmites
australis. From this system has remained only one marsh, which can be still considered
as a small lake with an interesting biodiversity.
Lake of Shas which is connected to Buna through a channel, in the aspect of
biodiversity values can be considered as a Skadar Lake in miniature and relatively
Waters of Shtoji i Poshtëm occupy an area situated close to Buna and sea, which
has a forest predominated by Tamarix, different and rare helofit plants and a rich wetland
Salt-mine of Ulcinj, although distanced from Buna, is connected to fresh water
which communicates with Buna. It is important to stress that the ornithofauna of this saltmine
communicates with the faunas of all wetland areas of Buna and waters connected to
this river.
This salt-mine is a very suitable nesting place for many bird species, some of them
Lagoon of Viluni is a considerable lagoon, which takes water from the marshes of
Buna. This lagoon is known for its abundance of fish (Anguilla, Mugil, Dicentrarcus etc)
and birds, especially Anas, Fulica and Larus.
In the following list are included endangered aquatic species. The threat status of
each species is shown by indexes, according to IUCN categories: E (endangered), V
(vulnerable), R (rare), I (undetermined), K (insufficiently known).
List of the threatened species
Trapa natans R Hydrocotyle vulgaris R
Nymphoides peltata R Hydrocharis morsus-ranae R
Sagittaria sagittifolia R Lemna trisulcata R
Groenlandia densa R Spirodella polyrhiza R
Potamogeton gramineus R Vallisneria spiralis R
Marsilea quadrifolia R Quercus robur E
Baldelia ranunculoides R
Theodoxus fluviatilis K Unio elongatus R
Holandriana holandrii K Unio crassus R
Microcondylaeae compressa R Dreissena blanci K
Petromyzon marinus V Nemacheilus barbatus sturanyi R
Acipenser sturio E Gasterosteus aculeatus R
Acipenser naccarii E Dicentrarchus labrax V
Acipenser stellatus E Blennius fluviatilis R
Barbus meridionalis petenyi R Platichthys flessus luscus E
Barbus meridionalis rebeli R Rutilus prespensis vukovici R
Gobio gobio lepidolaemus R Pachychilon pictum R
Gobitis taenia ohridana R
Salamandra salamandra R Hyla arborea K
Triturus vulgaris R Rana dalmatina R
Triturus cristatus R Rana graeca K
Bombina variegata R Rana lessonae V
Bufo bufo K Rana balcanica V
Bufo viridis K
Emys orbicularis R
Natrix natrix V
Natrix tessellata V
Gavia stellata R Aythya nyroca E
Gavia arctica R Aythya marila E
Phalacrocorax carbo K Haematopus ostralegus R
Phalacrocorax pygmeus V Burhinus oedicnemus E
Botarurus stellaris V Himantopus himantopus E
Ixobrychus minutus K Recurvirostra avosetta E
Nycticorax nycticorax K Glareola pratincola R
Ardeolla ralloides K Pluvialis squatarola R
Egretta garzetta V Calidris alba R
Egretta alba V Calidris alpina R
Platalea leucorodia K Numenius arquata R
Plegadis falcinellus K Tringa totanus I
Cygnus olor E Larus minutus K
Anas albifrons V Larus melanocephala K
Anser anser V Sterna sandvicensis K
Netta ruffina R
Lutra lutra E
Changes of water regimen
Often the alluviums fill up the last part of Buna, creating a serious obstacle for the
normal fish migration of Buna itself and Skadar Lake toward Adriatic Sea and vice-versa.
Other changes of the water regimen, because of the eventual impact for construction
of hydroelectric station, deepening of the river for navigation etc., could have their effects
on the wildlife of the river and entire area.
Change of water regimen of the marshes, especially their draining, would lead to a
massive disappearance of birds.
Discharge of polluting materials
The sewage of Skadar town pours directly to Drin River, quite close to its joint with
Buna and this is the main cause for the pollution of Buna. This is not only a pollution
through trophic substances, but in the same time it is a considerable pollution through
detergents and other chemical materials discharged in the system of canalization of the
town. These polluting substances harm the food web of the ecosystem and other
ecological components.
Damage of forest vegetation, mainly along river sides, is a very dangerous factor for
the relevant area. Because of deforestation, the erosion is obviously increased, there is a
huge decline of bird quantity and nesting, the agroecosystems are degraded and the lack
of their purificative and curative role is evident.
Damage of the reedbeds should be also considered as a degradation of the main
habitats of birds.
Constructions out of criterions
Commercial and touristic constructions close to the river sides, but also those all
around the wetland area, have a hard negative effect in the degradation of the ecosystem.
This constructions increase the human presence, pollution of water and river sides,
abusive using of cars and other transport means through the ecosystem etc.
Illegal fishing and hunting
Fishing beyond criterions, especially with exterminating means, causes a quick
decline of fish population. A serious danger are also the weirs built in many parts of the
river, which function out of biological criterion of fish migration.
A huge damage is also caused by fishing with electricity and explosion.
Hunting of birds is undisciplined, too. Many people own hunting guns and use them
out of criterions. Hunting occurs constantly even in the prohibited season.
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