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.
Organised and overseen by members of the Rewilding Rhodopes team, this was the second annual camp run as part of the project titled “Conservation of Black and Griffon Vultures in the Rhodope Mountains” (“kartali” is the Bulgarian word for black vulture). For six days the area around the reservoir was covered in tents, as the camp’s many participants demonstrated an eagerness to deepen their knowledge of the area and LIFE Vultures activities.
The Kartali Nature Camp programme included a variety of daily activities, while presentations and discussions on rewilding and related topics were held every evening. Participants enjoyed a number of visits to the field, as well as special training on the monitoring and tracking of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Young explorers were encouraged to discover and appreciate the bountiful flora and birdlife of the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, with a particular focus on the griffon vulture colony located near the camp.
One of the highlights of this year’s programme was a demonstration by some special camp participants – Nikolay Terziev and his dog Bars, who are both members of Bulgaria’s first ever anti-poison dog unit. Bars, who is trained to detect illegal poison baits, rapidly acquired star status with an impressive demonstration of his skills. Patrolling the camp and sniffing out a number of hidden baits, he wowed wildlife enthusiasts from all over Bulgaria.
In addition to their theoretical and practical education, participants in this year’s Kartali Nature Camp made a significant contribution to wild nature by collecting more than 150 bags of rubbish from the shores of the Studen Kladenets Reservoir. In their free time they were also able to enjoy a range of local recreational activities, including hikes to natural beauty spots, kayaking and horse riding.
With its abundant opportunities for environmental education and nature-based tourism, the Rhodope Mountains are the perfect place to connect young people with wild nature, thereby motivating them to conserve and enhance it.
Rewilding Europe places a high value on educational programmes and activities for children, students, volunteers, activists and other wild nature enthusiasts. We believe that an essential part of our work is to communicate and share our passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural world, ensuring that our philosophy and practical efforts reach out to and resonate with people of all generations.
To ensure the continued effectiveness of conservation work we must reach out to the younger generation directly. This should be done on their terms and through actions that both engage and educate. See here how you can support our work with children and youth in rewilding areas.