Memorie.al / Velipoja Reserve were created in 1958 and have an area of about 800 hectares. In it, vegetation and birds are in their very best natural state. This reserve has in its interior four forest belts as well as four marshes, which are connected by land to each other. Through this reserve, by road between dense forests, the mouth of the Buna River is reached. This point has a rare beauty, as there are three islands, a large one called Ada and the other two that are smaller. One of these is called: “Franz Joseph Island”. The reserve, for its part, in the southern part of its territory, is bordered by the Sea Coast, from the western part, it is bordered by the Buna River, while in the northern and eastern parts, and it is bordered by land.
Mark Shtjefni, inspector of the Forest Police, speaks in a conversation with us about the operation of the reserve, one of the pearls that was once enjoyed for hunting by the senior leadership of the ALP and today serves as a natural park, to be visited by vacationers and tourists, local and foreign, who come here in every season of the year.
Mr. Mark, how long has the reserve been established here in Velipoja and how has it functioned?
This environment took full shape and was created in 1958. For this, in addition to its natural trees, the state of that time planted a significant number of pine seedlings, which make up the first generation after the sea. In addition, measures have been taken by the Forestry Company for the cultivation and maintenance of trees that were in a natural state in this country.
After that, it was decided to erect a temporary building there, which served as a residence for the APS cadres, who came for vacations and hunting. It is worth noting that, during those years, since Velipoja was characterized by numerous swamps, it was a good place for animal and bird hunting enthusiasts. Such a situation continued until the end of the 90s.
But, although our country and Velipoja at the same time have gone through difficult periods, such as the summer of 1991, March of 1997, again the Reserve, thanks to our work, of Forest Police inspectors, such as Preke Ndoka, who has 30 years’ work in this reserve, has managed to survive in this state that it is today. Only the Pritje building, as they once told him, is still destroyed, as if to show what this reserve has removed in 1997!
Do you remember any event from the life of the senior leadership of the PPSh at that time, when they came here for hunting?
Yes, there are a lot of such stories, but I want to mention one case that was not only special for the time, but it was kept secret and became known to some extent, only after the 90s, because who dared to raise his voice at that time.
Specifically, what is it about and when did that event take place?
It was the beginning of the 80s, when, as usual, one of the comrades of the senior leadership of the Party (PPS) came to the Reserves to hunt wild pigs.
Who was he, that now it’s not a secret…?
No, what secret?! Qirjako Mihali was a member of the Political Bureau and Minister of Finance, if I’m not mistaken at that time.
For this work, some employees of the Agricultural Cooperative of Velipoja were appointed in time, who made sure that the hunt was as successful as possible.
Because otherwise, you could face serious consequences for all those who worked in the reserves and supported their families with bread. Or rather, there was such a fear that anything could happen to us.
On the day he had come to hunt, friend Qirjako Mihali, as usual with couples on his side and the people who accompanied him, was in ambush for the wild boar, while the employees of the Reserve kept the pigs all night long to take them to wait friend Qirjako. He just saw a wild boar, took a cue and shot the couple in his direction.
But, unfortunately, the gunmen, instead of hitting the pig, had shot one of the employees of the Reserve (P.S.) after that, the people gathered running and took the blood-covered body of their friend and tried to put him in the car to send him to the hospital.
But, at that moment, the former senior member of the leadership of the party and the state, i.e. “comrade Qirjako Mihali”, instead of expressing his regret for what he had done, called out to the people: “What are you doing, you did it?” dirty car”
Then the frightened people removed the body of P.S. from his car and by means of another car, they immediately took him to the hospital. And there, thanks to the work of the doctors, Ali Spahia and Mark Mirashi, it became possible for the employee of the Reserve to save his life. He already enjoys good health and lives and works in Velipoja Beach.
When the comedy “Hunting” (with Sillon) appeared a while ago, everyone’s mind went to this event. Even the director of this comedy (Koço Devole), when he came to visit Velipoja and when they introduced him to the real person of this event, (P.S.), he said: “I had heard about it, but I’m glad that it wasn’t fictional and very close to reality.”
What is the current state of the Reserve today?
Currently, the Reserve has been declared a “Protected Area” and as such, enjoys special protection. In the territory it includes, there are four forest belts and four small swamps which are connected to each other by land roads. All the natural wealth has been preserved intact, completely natural, since no one has the right to interfere there, for any reason, especially for hunting, which is categorically prohibited.
While from abroad, there are not few hunters, especially those from Italy, who come and hunt from far away. These come after hearing from the sons of Velipoja who are immigrants in Italy, about the many resources of Velipoja. Thus, these Italians are not lazy to come and stay for days to enjoy their passion, which is hunting.
But this does not mean that no one has the right to enter there. The reserve is open to all those people who want to visit it as tourists, against some symbolic fees that are 50 lek per person, or 150 lek, in case they want to enter by car and 1,000 lek per minute, in case they want to film with video cameras. There they are free to walk around the entire reserve and enjoy its natural beauty and wealth.
The “imperial” island where the senior communist leadership of the ALP is buried!
The island, which is known by the name of the Emperor “Franz Joseph”, was created from the alluvium that was accumulated at the site of a shipwreck. As is known, Franz Joseph was the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Since its inception, the island has served as a resting point for the senior leadership of the Labor Party of the time and as such, it has served for 10-15 days of holiday and hunting per year, while during the rest of the year, guarded by soldiers of the Republic Guard. The reserve, with an area of 800 hectares, is bordered in the northern and eastern parts by land; in the southern part is the Adriatic Sea, while in the western part, the Buna River.
All about the pearls of Velipoja in the Nature Reserve
This reserve was created in 1958 and it has an area of about 800 hectares. In it, vegetation and birds are in their very best natural state. This reserve has in its interior four forest belts as well as four marshes, which are connected by land to each other. Through this reserve, by road between dense forests, the mouth of the Buna River is reached. This point has a rare beauty, as there are three islands, a large one called Ada and the other two that are smaller. One of these is called: “Franz Joseph Island”. The reserve, on the other hand, in the southern part of its territory, is bordered by the Sea Coast, from the western part, it is bordered by the Buna River, while in the northern and eastern parts, and it is bordered by land.
The Buna River may be the only one that has its discharge in the form of a natural Delta, with three branches. Two of these branches belong to the Montenegrin part, while one belongs to our side. Through the spillway of the Buna River, ships of various tonnages have once entered it, climbing along the flow of the Buna, up to the port of Pulaj. Then, either the goods were unloaded, or they were loaded onto smaller ships which went as far as the Buna bridge at the entrance to the city of Shkodra, sending the goods to Shkodra merchants. While in the branches of the Montenegrin side, there is an island, Ada, which serves as a resting point in an almost natural state.
Trees and vegetation of the reserve
In addition to the Pine planted by the state at that time in a natural line before the 90s, there are also various trees, such as: Ash, Spruce, Poplar, Hawthorn, Root, Root (Oak Family) as well as a large number swamp bushes and plants, etc.
The animals that “populate” the reserve
The wild rabbit
In addition to the wild rooster, which is in a small number, in the territory of the Velipoja Reserve, there are nearly 40 species of ducks, most of which are migratory or migratory as they are now called. These arrive in the month of September and leave at the end of March each year. Memorie.al