Bulgarian graffiti helps birds

This video says about itself:

Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and 140 ideas made this mural under the project LIFE+ Save the Raptors. Giant graffiti is painted on the wall of the 32th school in Sofia. It is part of communications and education activities under the project aiming to protect globally endangered Imperial Eagle in Bulgaria.

See more here.

Tour de France cycling and vultures

Today, the Tour de France cycling race is in the Pyrenees mountains.

As the cyclists went to the Aubisque mountain pass, TV cameras zoomed in on a group of vultures.

They were griffon vultures.

This is a griffon vulture video from Bulgaria; also including an Egyptian vulture and a hooded crow.

Great tit, bird of Bulgarian capital

This is a video of a great tit chick hatching while its parents watch.

From Sofia News Agency in Bulgaria:

Great Tit Picked as Bird Symbol of Sofia

March 22, 2012, Thursday

Sofianites have picked the Great Tit (Parus major) as a symbol of the capital.

The poll was conducted in the period January 28 – March 15 and attracted a total of 8600 votes for 12 options.

The Great Tit emerged as the winner with 24% of the votes, followed by the Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) with 20% of the votes and the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) supported by 16% of the voters.

The poll was launched as part of the “See for the first time: The flying wealth of Bulgaria” project of the Bulgarian Society for Protection of Birds financed and supported by the America for Bulgaria foundation.

The winning species will be awarded with a special installation in Sofia’s Southern Park.

The installation will be the starting point for bird-watching routes that are yet to be marked with directional signs and notice boards.

The project, which aims to promote Bulgaria as a destination for eco-tourism and an important ornithological site, is to be completed by early June.

House sparrows in decline in India – Help BNHS survey house sparrows: here.

June 2012. House Sparrows are approaching a six-year high in gardens. Numbers declined sharply in 2006 but are now making a steady recovery. To help the public nurture this upturn, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has produced a free factsheet: here.

November 2013: The Bulgarian Government is being taken to the European Court of Justice following its failures to protect internationally important nature areas. The European Commission says the Bulgarian Government has not fulfilled its duties under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the main pieces of EU nature legislation, which ensure the conservation of important nature areas in Europe: here.

Schwarzenegger, Stallone kill bats

From the Evening Standard in England:

Sly and Arnie ‘killing thousands of bats

24 Jan 2012

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone are under fire from animal activists after they woke up one of Europe’s biggest colonies of hibernating bats to film their latest movie.

They say the bats may starve in their thousands because the lights and cameras disturbed their winter sleep, leaving them disorientated and confused.

Stallone, Schwarzenegger and their crew entered the Devetashka cave in Bulgaria to film The Expendables 2, due to be screened this summer.

European ape fossil discovery

From ScienceDaily:

Most Recent European Great Ape Discovered

(Jan. 13, 2012) — Based on a hominid molar, scientists from Germany, Bulgaria and France have documented that great apes survived in Europe in savannah-like landscapes until seven million years ago.

A seven million year old pre-molar of a hominid discovered near the Bulgarian town of Chirpan documents that great apes survived longer in Europe than previously believed. An international team of scientists from the Bulgarian Academy of Science, the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and Madelaine Böhme from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment at the University of Tübingen was involved in the project. The new discovery may cause a revision in our understanding of some major steps in hominid evolution.

To date scientists have assumed that great apes went extinct in Europe at least 9 million years ago because of changing climatic and environmental conditions. Under the direction of Nikolai Spassov from the National Museum of Natural Science in Sofia, Bulgaria, the molar was discovered in Upper Miocene fluvial sediments near Chirpan. The morphology and the great thickness of the tooth enamel point to a hominid fossil. The age of the fossiliferous sands at 7 million years reveals the fossil to be most recent known great ape from continental Europe.

Until now, the most recent fossil was that of a 9.2 million year old specimen of Ouranopithecus macedonensis from Greece. Hominids therefore were thought to have disappeared from Europe prior to 9 million years ago. At this time, European terrestrial ecosystems had been changed from mostly evergreen and lush forests to savannah-like landscapes with a seasonal climate. It had been thought that great apes, which typically consume fruits, were unable to survive this change due to a seasonal deficiency of fruits.

The scientists found animals typical of a savannah in the fossil-bearing layer: several species of elephants, giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, rhinos, and saber-toothed cats. This discovery suggests that European hominids were able to adapt to the seasonal climate of a savannah-like ecosystem. This conclusion is further corroborated by electron microscope analysis of the tooth’s masticatory surface, which reveals that the Bulgarian hominid had consumed hard and abrasive objects like grass, seeds, and nuts. In this respect, the feeding behavior of this animal resembles that of later African hominids from about 4 million years ago (e.g. australopithecids like ‘Lucy’).

Provocative post on that new hominin (or ape?) foot & what loss of grasping toe meant for infant care: here.

Burtele Hominin – New Kid On The Evolution Block: here.

Anti-Roma racism in Bulgaria

This video is called French Roma expulsions spark racism warning.

By Anna Rombach:

Violence against Roma in Bulgaria

7 October 2011

Bulgaria has recently witnessed violence against Roma for the first time. There were violent demonstrations in the capital Sofia and 14 other cities, including Plovdiv, Varna and Pleven, against the Roma minority, estimated at half a million out of a population of 7.5 million. In the forefront of the demonstrations were local Nazi gangs, who exploited the death of two Bulgarian youths for their own purposes.

See also here.

Using Ethnic Tensions for Political Games (and Gains): Anti-Roma Protests in Bulgaria. Elana Faye Resnick, Truthout: “Anti-Roma sentiment continues to spread throughout Bulgaria, just in time for the presidential elections on October 23…. Yes, protests against Roma are dangerous and must be stopped before violence ensures, but this wave of anti-Gypsy sentiment is an important symptom of larger political and economic issues – of countrywide poverty, high-level government corruption and the misuse of European Union (EU) funds. Right now, most people want a Band-Aid, but what they need most is to look at what created this massive societal wound”: here.