With the first anti-poison dog units patrolling the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area from 2016, their counterparts on the Greek side of the border are also carrying out equally valuable work.
What’s kept us busy in making the Rhodope Mountains a wilder place
Fewer griffon vultures were counted this year at the annual census of griffon vultures on the Balkan Peninsula. This year, barely 145 griffon vultures were counted along Arda River in Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, 40 fewer than in 2016. The area is home of the largest colony of griffon vultures in Bulgaria. Last year a record number of 178 griffon vultures were sighted,the highest registered during the annual roost count in the Eastern Rhodopes since 2005.
This autumn seven more artificial nests will attract black vultures in the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. In 2016 the first three nests for the rare birds were built and are now numbering 10 nests. Black vultures have disappeared from Bulgaria some decades ago. The idea of artificial nests is to attract birds from Dadia National Park in neighboring Greece to settle in the Eastern Rhodopes and gradually rebuild the population.
First Anti-poison Dog Unit in Bulgaria started patrolling in Rhodope Mountains in 2016. The main objective of the Unit is to create poison-free areas by controlling and removing poisoned baits before they can cause damage. However, pioneers on the Balkans are two Greek Canine Teams especially trained for the detection of poison baits. Since 2014 WWF Greece and Hellenic Ornithological Society are working in Thrace and Central Greece. Patrols cover mainly the territories of last Egyptian vultures in Greece, but not only. Here is an insight into the work of the WWF Greece’s Anti-poison team.
The birds, tagged with GPS transmitters in Dadia National Park in Greece, will offer additional insight into black vulture behaviour and movement on and around the Balkan Peninsula. By supporting conservation measures, this will hopefully reinforce the comeback of this magnificent yet endangered species.
This October an exhibition titled “Lords of the Rhodopean Skies” is taking place at the Regional History Museum of the town of Kardzhali in southern Bulgaria. The aim of the exhibition is to reconnect people with nature by presenting the wild beauty and diversity of the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area.
The first weekend in September saw a crowd of more than 40 people gather in the town of Madzharovo, in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains, to mark International Vulture Awareness Day Taking place across the world on this weekend every year, the day is designed to publicise and promote the conservation of vultures to a global audience, and to celebrate the splendour of these endangered birds.
With an informative publication, Rewilding Europe and ARK Nature present a new way to support Europe’s scavengers.
Despite its catastrophic impact on Asian vulture populations in the 1990s, veterinary diclofenac is still used and marketed in countries such as Spain and Italy. The Vulture Conservation Foundation, a partner of Rewilding Europe in the LIFE Vultures project in the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, has launched a campaign to ban its use in Europe.
With the slogan “Become an explorer”, this year’s Kartali Nature Camp inspired more than 60 people to explore the dramatic beauty of Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains, and to learn more about the local LIFE Vultures Project. Held between May 12 and 17 on the banks of the Studen Kladenets Reservoir, the event, attended by everyone from small children to volunteers and students, proved incredibly popular with young Bulgarian nature lovers.