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.
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.
Mid January this year, 35 fallow deer were released in two priority rewilding sites in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria. The deer now released in Tintyava region in the Krumovgrad Municipality and Chernoochene village near the town of Kardzhali joined 88 other fallow deer and their offspring that were released during the last three years.
When I heard that Rhodope Mountains have become the seventh Rewilding Europe’s area, the very first thought that crossed my mind was “Rhodopes cannot go any wilder”. I have always considered Rhodope Mountains as wildlife heaven due to the relatively small, even negligible human disturbance. Few months later as a Rewilding Europe volunteer, I set out on a journey to find out what can make the Rhodopes wilder than the wild place I last visited before.
“The Eastern Rhodopes are one of the most beautiful places in Europe! You will see!” Frank Zanderink told me, when I was preparing for my internship. Frank Zanderink is the “students’ broker” for Rewilding Europe. I agreed with him silently in my mind when for the first time in my life I saw the beautiful Eastern Rhodopes.
The Rhodope Mountains have today officially become a part of the Rewilding Europe initiative, after a period of intensive preparations for it within the region.
The Tarpan, an extinct type of the Eurasian wild horse, features in the unique recently released half-hour documentary film called “TARPAN: Repainting An Ancient Picture” which will soon be screened in New York.
European bison, or Wisent, were brought to the Studen Kladenets Game Reserve in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria at the end of October. This is the first step of the first reintroduction of European bison into the Rhodopes, an area which is one of the first members of the European Rewilding Network.