Waterfowl count on Bulgaria’s Arda River reveals some special visitors. On the weekend of 14–15 January, more than 7,000 birds of 32 different species were recorded at the annual mid-winter waterfowl census on the Arda River in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. Experts and volunteers from Rewilding Rhodopes and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds observed some species that are rarely seen in the region.
What’s kept us busy in making the Rhodope Mountains a wilder place
The number of griffon vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes continues to grow, shows the annual census of griffon vultures on the Balkan Peninsula. This year, 184 griffon vultures were counted along Arda River in Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, home of the largest colony of griffon vultures in Bulgaria. Last year there were 178 griffon vultures registered. This year number is the highest registered during the annual roost count in the Eastern Rhodopes since 2005.
November was filled with a diverse range of events, lectures, workshops, and activities related to the protection of vulture species in Europe and worldwide. Experts from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) took аn active part in most of them and presented some of the results and activities from the project “Conservation of black and griffon vultures in the Rhodope mountains”.
During the last few weeks, 11 black vultures were equipped with satellite transmitters in Dadia National Park, in the Greek part of the Rhodope Mountains. These transmitters will provide important scientific data about the distribution, movements and possible threats, which will further help identify future conservation actions for the species in this region. These actions are part of the LIFE Vultures project.
This summer, seven griffon vultures – four adults and three young – were fitted with satellite transmitters in the breeding colony near Madzarhovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains. The first interesting results about their movements are already being revealed, with one young bird undertaking a long journey to the southeast. The vulture flew across two continents and six countries, and is still exploring the hot Middle Eastern territories.
This October, Rewilding Rhodopes organized a special training course on the management and development of wildlife watching enterprise and wildlife photography in Madzharovo, Bulgaria. The training was part of the LIFE Project “Conservation of black and griffon vultures in Rhodope Mountains” (LIFE Vultures), and connected more than 30 participants that gained valuable knowledge, exchanged experiences and ideas.
Just after we officially launched the first Anti-Poison Dog Unit last week, Bulgaria witnessed a serious new case of poisoning in the Eastern Rhodopes close to the Greek border. In just a few days time, seven wolves, five shepherd dogs, one wild boar, two foxes, one hedgehog and one stone marten were found near a poisoned bait. A griffon vulture was also considered as a casualty of poisoning.
New case of poisoned animal in the Eastern Rhodopes was registered this Sunday. This time the authorities and experts from Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Green Balkans found wild boar after a signal from concerned hunters from the region of Strazhets, Krumovgrad.
This summer, Nikolay Terziev from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) spent nearly two months in Hungary where he was trained as dog handler for the first Antipoison Dog Unit in Bulgaria. The main objective of the Unit is to create poison-free areas by controlling and removing poisoned baits before they can cause damage.
Last Friday, the Life project “Conservation of Black and Griffon vultures in the cross-border Rhodope Mountains” held its opening ceremony during the International Vulture Awareness Day celebration in Bulgaria. The project focuses on the recovery and further expansion of black and griffon vulture populations in this part of the Balkan region, simultaneously developing nature based tourism thus providing long-term benefits for the local communities.