Dangerous for the vultures electric poles insulated in Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria

This week four new electric poles are insulated in Rhodope Mountain in Bulgaria under the LIFE “Conservation of black and griffon vultures in Rhodope Mountains”. The insulation is one of the most important direct conservation project activities and until now 171 poles at risk for birds have been isolated in the Eastern Rhodopes and diverters have been installed on a 1.5 km power transmission line.

Insulation of electric poles in Rhodope Mountains. Image: Atanas Delchev/BSPP

Unsecured pillars are just one of the many threats that vultures and other birds in the Eastern Rhodopes face daily. Unfortunately, vultures and other birds are not always able to see the wires in front of them, which causes collisions. When flying or landing on dangerous pillars, birds often touch the wires and die as a result of an electric shock. As a result of electrocution or collision, a large number of birds die every year. These incidents have adverse effects on the populations of protected bird species, including the vultures, so it is important to reduce and eliminate any potential threats.

 “Located  between  two griffon vulture colonies in the area of ​​Patronka and Kovan Kaya, the line in Madzharovo was among the priorities to insulate. The secure now line is the one where a young Egyptian vulture released in the area died last year. The most dangerous are the electric poles on the ridges and high parts, because they stand on  the vultures fly way from and to the nests and feeding places. Particularly risky are those with a forest background or slope. They are not easy to see and identify as a threat and that is why they are risky for vultures and other birds “, commented Dr. Dobromir Dobrev, expert from the Bulgarian society for the protection of birds (BSPB). In addition to vultures, the poles endanger a number of other birds, including large soaring, non-soaring, predatory, waterfowl waterfowl and other bird species.

Insulators are special plastic products that are placed on the wires near the ladder and thus prevent the bird from touching the wire while landing or taking off and thus reduce the risk of electric shock. The length of the isolators is in accordance with the size of large birds of prey, such as vultures. In addition to insulating equipment for better security of the poles, other equipment – diverters are placed. These are sun-reflecting plates that hang along the wires. They make rotating movements and reflect light, thus signaling to the birds that there is an obstacle in front of them and they are able to avoid it.

The materials were purchased and delivered to the Rewilding Europe within the project “Conservation of black and griffon vultures in the Rhodope Mountains”, This important conservation activity is part the five-year LIFE Vultures project was developed by Rewilding Europe, in collaboration with the Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, WWF Greece, the Hellenic Ornithological Society and the Vulture Conservation Foundation.

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