Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 10:47 UK

Group's bear care centre proposal

Rescued bear cub (Pic: SWS/M Velecky)
The sanctuary could provide care for rescued bear cubs

A conservation group with links to Scotland is trying to establish a large carnivores sanctuary in Slovakia.

The Slovak Wildlife Society's (SWS) work with mammals, such as wolves and bears, has attracted interest from Highlands estate owner Paul Lister.

The society is also to work collaboratively this summer with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit headed by Scot, David Macdonald.

SWS hopes the planned centre would help rehabilitate sick and injured mammals.

Robin Rigg, of the Anglo-Slovak organisation, said the sanctuary could provide care for abandoned European brown bear cubs and lynx with minimal human contact.

Bear-proof bins

He said: "The aim would be to release them back into the wild.

"Another part of the sanctuary would have individual animals not able to be released and could be seen by people and help educate them on the country's wildlife."

Mr Rigg's brother Alex, an artist based near Thornhill, Dumfries, has helped to run educational projects on wild animals for schools in Slovakia.

SWS has a specific scheme, called the BEARS Project, which is attempting to help people better understand the animals.

It has been also promoted the use of bear-proof bins from North America and safe use of electric fencing to protect properties without harming the creatures.

Professor Macdonald, who heads University of Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, confirmed members of SWS would be working with his team over the summer.

He has previously visited the society in Slovakia.

Mr Lister, who owns the Alladale Wilderness Reserve north of Inverness, has also been a visitor.

He is keen to see wolves and other animals once native to Scotland reintroduced.

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