There are only 20 caves in the world that have over 20 underground species.

By biodiversity of its underground fauna, Vjetrenica is the first in the world. It accounts for 92 described species adapted only to undersoil life not able to survive under different circumstances. there are also 6 more species in the process of scientific description. Among mentioned species there are about 35 species that are first discovered in Vjetrenica which is the spot of their first discovery (so called locus typicus). It is very important for the experts since those are the environmental conditions that enable survival of these species. Besides that, 14 of them has been found only in Vjetrenica and nowhere else, not even in the closest cave systems. Experst claim it to be a living museum, because all these animal have died on the surface and have their representatives only in the underground.

Damaging and destroying habitats in Vjetrenica threaten the extinction of some species! It can be caused by different human activities that decrease their life space, such as different surface polluters (pesticides, motor oils, etc.), building underground tunnels or by tourist-attracting ----- that would help the increase of noise, light, etc. For instance, construction of one quarry or a tunnel can divide a niche in a habitat in two and thereby bisect a life space of a species. Resistance of cave's fauna to changes is little, because there is always the same temeperature, humidity and dark there during the whole year. If only a temperature of the air would change for one degree, it would affect the humidity as well (the relative humidity in Vjetrenica is constantly near 100 per cent) and such a tiny change can become a huge risk factor. If the living space is decreased, the populations of these cavernal animals decrease as well. When we talk about small populations, such as those in Vjetrenica, then they are faced with total extinction.

Vjetrenica is a habitat of two Red list species, olm (Proteus anguinus) i minnow (Delminichthys ghetaldii)

Geomorphology and hydrology

Vjetrenica is the heart of the landscape for which Jovan Cvijic, the founder of karstology (a field within geomorphology, specializing in the study of karst formations) has said that there is no more whole and more developed in the world. We can find there many karst forms, some of which (such as hum, e.g.) have significantly contributed to this science.

In Vjetrenica we explore many a phenomena, especially the relationship between surface and the underground. It has huge halls (one of them, 200 m long, accomodates a 60 m high hill), basins, a number of canals and lakes (one stationary lake is 180 m long, and a temporal one even 380!), 4 stationary and a number of temporal brooks flowing at different altitudes and directions, one of them producing a waterfall 9 m high, and so on.

Waters are organized in two underground basins: up to 1 500 m from the entrance is a Popovo basin and thereon is a Jadran one. Hydrology is crucial for grasping the state of karst. There is about 2 000 mm of rain here which connects all the cracks into single body. Here we can use the comparison with a human circulation: vessels are the main carriers of the blood, but capillaries can introduce the deadly poison. Whatever happens nearby can influence the spot we protect. Therefore we can say that karst ecosystem is three-dimensional: it transfers influences from high atmosphere areas deeply underground, often below the sea level.

Karst rocks have been found even 3 000 m below the ground!


Vjetrenica is also a finding site of extinct mammals that used to live in this region. A dozen of skeletons have been found, the most renowned the cave bear (Ursus spaleaus) and the leopard (Panthera pardus). In fall 2007, a complete world unique skeleton of a leopard is extracted and placed into Zemaljski Museum. According to researchers, Vjetrenica is the spot where the interpretation of a leopard entering underground through the holes on topographic surface is launched, where they hid and died after not being able to find the way out. Besides this whole skeleton, the remnants of two more leopards have been found.


This aspect has been studied the least, but it is as important as all the others and therefore has to be fully reconstructed. Through all the history, Vjetrenica was considered to be holy: the wind is a sign of God's presence, especially the sounds that could have been heard up to entrance extension. It reinforced the medieval image of the cave as a boundary between the worlds, and a place of initiation for ancient people in earlier times. This has been confirmed by material clues: at the entrance there was a prehistorical grave ruined by later cultures. Besides that, on an active rock of the entrance there are two reliefs typical for stećke. On the left side of the entrance, from outside, there are clues of medieval villa. It was cooled by wind from underground which is, as far as we know, a unique ethnographic patent.

Vjetrenica is an open book for the history of culture. It says that all the surrounding cultural objects emerged from their spiritual initiation and connection to Vjetrenica. They did not appear just like that, out of nowhere.

To cut to the chase, we can not fully comprehend anything without the history of Vjetrenica. That is why people who are not aware of this truth turn everything upside down considering Vjetrenica to be a mere mystical underground hole.

Scientific history

A special for of cultural history is scientific history which development is related to exploring Vjetrenica as well. Vjetrenica has been mentioned in 77 AD in the first European encyclopedia Historia naturalis for the first time, exactly because of its wind (Vjetrenica is a derivation coming from the word vjetar which denotifies wind in Slavic languages, op. Prev.). After that, it has been researched by Dubrovnik's renaissance tradition, there by the book On Aristotel's meteors by Nikola Gučetić (1574.) is considered to be a scientific foundation of speleology in BiH and Croatia. During Austrian period, the key for understanding of genesis of Popovo field, a karst phenomena of the first order, had been searched for in Vjetrenica. Karel Absolon, a karstologist, called it Paleoombla, meaning old, deserted Ombla saying it helped him cone the key for understaning the karst on Balkan.


  • Prijetnje sirem podrucju Vjetrenice koje za posljedicu mogu imati nepovoljan utjecaj na živi svijet pecine:

- otvoren je kamenolom na lokalitetu Lipova glavica u Vali prema Slanom, u području koje je po Prostornom planu SR BiH iz 1981. označeno kao rezervat prirode,
- donesen je prostorni plan općine s dodatnim kamenolomima od kojih su neki u područjima univerzalnih vrijednosti (npr. Začula); koji tako u potpunosti degradira kandidaturu Vjetrenice za Svjetsku baštinu UNESCO-a
- općina je odobrila priključenje crpke za vodu iz izvora Lukavac, koji pripada Vjetrenici s obrazloženjem "da nema negativnih utjecaja"

  • Vjetrenica je danas praktično institucionalno nezaštićena:

- 2004. godine u Vjetrenici je pronađeno više baterijskih uložaka čija je visoka toksičnost u biospleoeloškim krugovima povezana s nestankom nekih vrsta račića kozica (Troglocaris) u Glavnom kanalu; Vjetrenica je po tome, nažalost, kao locus typicus opisana u literaturi,
- isključena je struja Vjetrenici, bez obzira što je namjeravano da se neki programi monitoringa živog svijeta napajaju strujom,
-  raspisan je natječaj za osvjetljenje Vjetrenice i posao je dodijeljen bez ikakve okolišne dozvole i drugih potrebnih akata na projektu koji je intelektualno vlasništvo Speleološke udruge i koji nije moguće izvesti bez pomoći autora projekta iz Australije,
- šest puta je razbijan lokot na ulazu u Vjetrenicu da bi se uradilo osvjetljenje i pećina uvela u turističku funkciju sa nepoznatim posljedicama po živi svijet,
- zapaženo je ugibanje faune u jesen 2007. u Glavnom kanalu; Treće kalcitno jezero ostalo je bez živih primjeraka!


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Spomenik prirode
Zakon o zaštiti prirode BiH, ("Službeni list SR BiH", broj: 4/65, od 5. februara 1965. godine)
Javno poduzeće „Vjetrenica – Popovo polje“