LIFE for Kresna Gorge

  • Country:
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Kresna Gorge
  • Size (ha):
  • Area Type:
  • Type of protection:
    Part of Pirin National Park, Tisata Reserve

Kresna Gorge is situated in South-west Bulgaria along the Struma River valley. The project is designed to reduce the impact of indirect threats on birds of prey and to restore the populations of species emblematic for the area.

Vultures in the Life for Kresna Gorge project


  • Habitat types: 6210, 6220, 6170, 91AA, 9560, 9530, 92C0, 95A0
  • Keystone species present: Ursus arctos, Canis lupus, Testudo graeca, Testudo hermanni, Gyps fulvus, Neophron percnopterus
  • Fauna (mega) species present: Ursus arctos, Canis lupus
  • Fauna species reintroduced: Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)
  • Vegetation types present: Juniperus excelsa, Quercus spp, Pinus spp


  • Description: The area is naturally rich on biodiversity. The brown bear and the wolf are frequently conflicting with livestock breeders, which turn to illegal use of poisoned baits. Exactly this problem led to extinction from the area of the 4 species of vultures found in Europe. Restoring these species and implementing integrated conservation actions (e.g. compensation programme for depredated livestock, eco-tourism and wild herbivores re-introduction) is believed to make a balance.
  • Aim: To restore the natural ecosystem of Kresna Gorge and restore the local populations of Griffon, Black, Egyptian and Bearded Vultures and Fallow deer.
  • Vision: To restore the 4 European vulture species, so they can fly over herds of transhumant sheep and cattle herds, but also over herds of wild fallow deer in lower parts and chamois and ibexes in higher altitudes.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: Griffon, Black and Egyptian Vultures are present with about 15, 10 and 6 pairs respectively, and about 1000 Fallow deer.
  • Uniqueness: Very rare in Europe, the existance of large carnivores (Brown Bear, Wolf, Jackal) and vultures to feed on their leftovers. Combination between low (130 m) valley and high mountains (nearly 3000 m) and Mediterranean, continental and alpine climate.
  • Results so far: Since 2010 FWFF is working on reintroduction on Griffon Vulture in the area and recently about 20 individuals are frequently present, more than 40 are available on passage and the Egyptian vulture is returning attracted by the Griffons. The first 12 Fallow deer are kept in a fenced area to introduce the local people for their future re-introduction into the area.
  • Flagship species: Vulture
  • Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products


  • Inspirational value: To have wild species around again, which have been extinct for decades, evokes childhood memories of elder people. Views of a soaring group of Griffon Vultures above the cliffs, grazing deer and autochthonous cattle inspire the aging local population and give people a hope to share the rewilding Kresna Gorge with their kids and bring them back to live in the region. LIFE for Kresna Gorge opens a variety of opportunities for locals to start some new business. We are all inspired by the first human baby to be born in the village of Rakitna for over a ten years period, just because the project gives a young couple the chance to work and plan its future here.
  • Experience you would like to share: Reintroduction of Griffon Vulture and European Souslik, grasslands management through grazing
  • Experience you would like to gain: Reintroduction of Fallow Deer, Ibex, Bald Ibis, Egyptian, Bearded and Black Vultures


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