Summary: Belje, a well-known hunting area in the region of Baranja, the northeastern part of the Republic of Croatia, encompasses a Nature park and a special zoological reserve of Kopački Rit. It took over two centuries to legally proclaim the greater part of Belje protected nature areas.The time until the proclamation stretched between about the second half of 18th until the second half of 20th centuries (1954), at which time the procedure of proclaiming Kopački Rit a managed nature reserve (1967) was made faster. This period of time is associated with the names of famous researchers, travelogue writers, animal collectors, and journalists, such as Rudolf Oesterreich, A. Brehm, E.F. Homeyer, A. Mojsisovics, E. Roessler, J. Phennigberger, J. Dividl, M. Marinović, Z. Szecseny, Albrecht Habsburg-Teschensky, and many other who drew attention of the European public, scientific circles and hunters with their works, travelogues, scientific papers and reports.
At the time of intensified procedures for the proclamation of Kopački Rit a protected nature area, among the users were the Hunting and Forestry Management "Jelen", the Croatian Parliament, the Executive Council of the Republic of Croatia, the Republic Institute for Nature Protection from Zagreb, Zagreb University, and a number of scientific institutes. Valuable contribution were additional efforts for legal protection of Kopački Rit by Drago and Renata Rucner, Zvjezdica Mikulić, Zvonko Car, Marinka Kamenarović, Ratko Keve and others|