News

BBF project competes in an International online competition of the European Outdoor Conservation Association and National Geographic

03/21/2012

Project of the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation for Chamois conservation in National Park Rila and Central Balkan National Park competes for the votes of the readers of the Internet websites of European Outdoor Conservation Association http://www.outdoorconservation.eu/project-voting-category.cfm?catid=3 and the German edition of National Geographic http://www.nationalgeographic.de/die-welt-von-ng/die-sechs-eoca-projekte-2012 .

We ask you to support us by voting on one of these two websites! You can vote only once from your computer!

The overall goal of the project is to significantly improve the protection of the Balkan Chamois by decreasing poaching, with the involvement of local communities, and in turn increase and enhance wildlife tourism in the parks. The project will be implemented in the course of 20 months. The project will work in partnership with the Departments of both parks in order to:
- Improve the combat against poaching in both Parks by analyzing the current anti-poaching activities and developing recommendations for their improvement; also involving volunteers in the guardining of key habitats; developing and adopting of innovative electronic systems for registering the entry of motor vehicles into the region;
- Raise public awareness about poaching by publishing a poster about poaching and how to submit information on poachers to at least 100 information points; organizing of four visits for groups of and publish in media of information about poaching trials and investigation;
- Organize two specialized photo workshops for photographing wildlife for the development of alternative tourism and revenue raising for the local population of the unique biodiversity of the two mountains.

Voting is as follows:

For English speakers:
http://www.outdoorconservation.eu/project-voting-category.cfm?catid=3 , go to “Save Balkan Chamois”. Click on “Vote now” on the right side of the picture, then click to accept the terms and conditions of the competition and finally click on the button “Cast your vote”.
If you prefer to vote in the National geographic German edition:
http://www.nationalgeographic.de/die-welt-von-ng/die-sechs-eoca-projekte-2012  
Go to the box, called “Stimmen Sie ab!”, then go to “Schutz der Balkan-Gemse, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation”. Accept the terms by clicking on “Bitte stimmen Sie den Teilnahmebedingungen zu” and finally press the button “Stimmen Sie ab! Vote”

Please vote and support us! You are our only chance to do something against poaching of chamois in Bulgaria!

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Longer description of the project

The Balkan Chamois is an endemic Chamois subspecies inhabiting the Balkan Peninsula. This highly typical herbivore of both Rila National Park and Central Balkan National Park in Bulgaria plays an important role in the parks’ ecosystems and brings multiple biodiversity benefits. With a population density reaching over 20 animals per km2, the Balkan Chamois helps maintain open grasslands via grazing, thus contributing to the preservation of biodiversity in these habitats, giving home to a wide variety of plants, butterflies, sousliks and raptors. The Chamois is also the preferred prey of the Eurasian Lynx and the Bearded Vulture – two species whose reintroduction is currently under discussion in Bulgaria. In addition, the Chamois is of great importance from the point of view of nature-based tourism as well - if not hunted, visitors will have a chance to observe flocks much more closely.
Unfortunately its behavior makes the Balkan Chamois an easy target for poaching. As a consequence of illegal hunting present in the area, their number has decreased to a total of just a few hundred animals in the two national parks, in spite of the fact that their habitats could support a population of several thousands. Poaching endangers the long-term survival of the Balkan Chamois.

The overall goal of the project is to significantly improve the protection of the Balkan Chamois by decreasing poaching, with the involvement of local communities, and in turn increase and enhance wildlife tourism in the parks. The project will be implemented in the course of 20 months.

Project activities

Develop recommendations on how to improve the warden system in the parks by the end of the first year
We will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of current anti-poaching activities of the park rangers in both parks and prepare a list of recommendations for their improvement. The recommendations will then be used by the National Park Services and will be included in their annual plans for activities.

Involve volunteers in the guarding of the Parks
The volunteers will mainly be high school students and other enthusiastic supporters from local communities. They will patrol the region and inform park authorities of suspicious people or activities and will also provide information materials to visitors. They will later share their experiences, along with other problems present in the parks in all forms of media available to them. At least five rangers per Park will be involved actively in the new systems for guarding.

Develop and adopt an electronic control system of each guarded region
A security firm will develop a system for registering the entry of motor vehicles into the region. The system will include the installation of electronic noise detectors and remote cameras.

Public awareness
We will publish and distribute an informative poster about poaching and how to submit information on poachers to at least 100 information points.
We will develop a project proposal for mounting permanent information panels with a description of the problems caused by poaching and instructions on how to submit hints on illegal activities to park authorities.
We will organize four visits for groups of journalists to the National parks.
We will prepare and distribute a monthly e-newsletter about the work done by volunteers. We will maintain the Facebook page of the volunteer rangers.
We will assist in investigations and trials against poachers and we will distribute press releases on the problems caused by poaching.

Promoting wildlife and alternative tourism as a tool to developing community-based conservation
We will organize two photography workshops with photographers in order to acquaint them with the fragile beauty of the national parks. The Chamois will be one of the most important photo models.

The project implementation will lead to the following significant results:
substantial decrease in poaching activities in the territory of the Parks by completely eliminating the poaching of the Chamois; illegal hunting of other species within Park territory will decrease as well;
improved conservation status of prey species will create the necessary preconditions for the natural or artificial reintroduction of the Lynx and the Bearded Vulture – a population of a few thousand Chamois will serve as viable feeding basis for these animals;
proper maintenance of natural grazing on mountain pastures will help keep biodiversically rich places open – a few thousand Chamois will play a significant role as grazers in treeless zone management;
increase in wildlife watching and nature-based tourism – the Chamois are very popular objects of wildlife tourism. They will attract more visitors, who in turn will be more satisfied if they are able to observe wildlife in the Park. This will ensure added value to the natural landscape monument;
improved public awareness of and support for the Parks – the abundance of wild animals in the Park will attract more visitors, which will secure a more prominent place for the Parks within our society and thus ensure ongoing support in solving the Parks’ problems.