Ex-circus lions get new life in South Africa

This video is called Lions – The New Endangered Species?

From Wildlife Extra:

Two ex-circus lions from Bulgaria have been released into Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa, the Born Free Foundation has reported.

Jora and Black’s started their 10,500 mile journey ‘home’, from a halfway house in central Bulgaria to Bourgas Airport on the Black Sea coast, late on Friday, 25th September. From there they were flown by Thomson Airways to London’s Gatwick Airport where legendary actress and Born Free co-founder, Virginia McKenna OBE, was waiting to give them a warm welcome.

Virginia said: “Born Free has successfully moved many captive animals but each occasion is unique in its own way. I am really happy to have seen these two lions at Gatwick before they head to their African homeland. I hope their story will inspire people to treat wild animals with respect and understanding, and never subject them to totally inappropriate existences in captivity. Jora and Black are flagship animals for the ending of all wild animals in circuses. Let all countries follow Bulgaria’s example.”

Jora and Black then travelled by road, in approved quarantine vehicles operated by JCS Livestock, to London’s Heathrow Airport where they were carefully prepared for the longest leg of their journey – a flight to Johannesburg International Airport. Much-loved Coronation Street actress Helen Worth, who launched the successful appeal for Jora and Black’s rescue in July and has been closely following their progress, took the opportunity to wish the brothers a fond farewell as they left the UK.

Helen said: “It is so exciting to see Jora and Black on the move to their wonderful new home. They are absolutely stunning animals and I feel really privileged to have had a chance to see them close up and on their way. I love Shamwari Game Reserve and I know they will have a lovely home there.”

After landing in Johannesburg, Jora and Black were transported by road. A convoy of Land Rover Discovery vehicles and trailers completed the journey to Shamwari Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth. Born Free staff, friends and local media watched with delight as Jora and Black were released into their new enclosure, setting paws on Africa soil for the first time.

Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Experiential Marketing Director, said: “Our vehicles are designed with the power and ability to safely transport heavy and precious cargo. We were delighted to be able to support Born Free with the relocation and to ensure that Jora and Black had the most comfortable ride possible to their new home in Africa.”

Shamwari Group Head of Wildlife and Veterinarian, Dr Johan Joubert, and Born Free’s Big Cat Specialist, Tony Wiles, travelled with Jora and Black throughout their journey, making regular health checks.

Dr Joubert said: “I am delighted we have been able to take these animals and offer them a permanent home in the African bush. It is a stark contrast from the trucks in which they were first found. These animals have travelled well and show every sign of settling in and reestablishing some of their natural behaviour.”

Jora and Black’s new lives in their spacious, safe and enriching accommodation will be a world away from the circumstances in which they were rescued by Born Free, assisted by FOUR PAWS, earlier this year. Taken in as small cubs, the brothers were originally part of a circus act touring Eastern Europe and Turkey. Following the Bulgarian government’s much-welcomed ban on the use of wild mammals in circuses, the lions were left to languish in a stifling beast wagon since the summer of 2014, until the owners agreed to re-home them with Born Free.

Good griffon vulture news from Bulgaria

This video from Bulgaria is called The vultures in Eastern Rhodopes.

From Wildlife Extra:

Record numbers of Griffon Vultures reported in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains

Vultures of many kinds are on the rise in Bulgaria’s remote mountains

The numbers of Griffon Vultures found to be nesting in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria has risen considerably, reports Rewilding Europe.

In February 2015, experts from Rewilding Rhodopes and its partner the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/ BirdLife Bulgaria visited all the known nesting locations of Griffon Vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes.

Of the 75 registered Griffon Vulture pairs in the area they found that 55 were at an incubation stage and the rest were in the process of building their nests.

Most of the identified pairs consist of adult birds.

“The positive trend of increase of the population of the Griffon Vulture in the Eastern Rhodopes continues this year as well: five more pairs compared to 2014,” says Dobromir Dobrev from the Rewilding Rhodopes team.

“An interesting result of the monitoring is the large number of single, non-breeding birds along the Arda river valley.”

Griffon vulture was widespread in Bulgaria in the past but in the mid 20th century numbers decreased dramatically and by the beginning of 70s the species was considered extinct.

In 1978, a small colony with one breeding pair was found in the area of Studen Kladenets, Eastern Rhodopes.

Eight years later a Griffon Vulture colony of nearly 20 birds and three nesting pairs was discovered near the town of Madzharovo.

Shortly after, the first direct conservation efforts in Bulgaria started: monitoring, artificial feeding and work with local communities.

Gradually, the species recovered and its breeding population increased from about 10 pairs in 1990s to 70 in 2014.

Today, the Arda valley is the breeding area of one of the largest natural colonies of Griffon Vultures in the Balkans.

Maintaining and supporting the comeback of the vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes is one of the highlights of the recently started five-year rewilding activities financed by the Swiss-based Fondation Segré.

The Eastern Rhodopes is also the most important breeding site for the globally threatened Egyptian Vulture on the Balkan peninsula.

The last remaining breeding colony of Black Vultures in South-eastern Europe is situated nearby, in the Dadia forest on the Greek side of the border, and the birds regularly come over to the Bulgarian side of the mountains in search for food.

Saving Bulgarian, Sudanese birds from electrocution

This 2013 video says about itself:

Bulgaria‘s Nature

BSPB’s volunteer Alexander ‘Sancho’ Marinov (Bulgaria) and nature researcher Anneloes Tukker (The Netherlands) tell us about the wildlife diversity of Bulgaria.

From BirdLife:

Saving birds from electrocution: BirdLife Bulgarian Partner rewarded for its work on power lines

By Elodie Cantaloube, Wed, 28/01/2015 – 09:03

On 27 January, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB; BirdLife in Bulgaria) and the BirdLife Partnership were rewarded with the Renewables-Grid-Initiative (RGI) “Good Practice Award” in the environmental protection category.  The award, presented at RGI’s annual conference in Brussels, recompenses the NGOs’ work on preventing bird deaths due to electrocution and collision with power lines in Bulgaria and Sudan.

Svetoslav Spasov, Projects Director at the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, accepting the award, stated: “I am delighted that in two particular cases we were able to secure the over-head power lines and prevent the death of many Eastern Imperial Eagles in Bulgaria and Egyptian Vultures in Sudan. There is still a lot to be done for a permanent solution; we need active cooperation and partnership between state authorities, private electric companies and [the] nature conservation community.”

Between 2009 and 2013, electrocution from power lines accounted for the death of 67% of tagged Eastern Imperial Eagles in Bulgaria. In Sudan, an infamous power line that runs from the Port Sudan area to the Red Sea coast is estimated to have electrocuted hundreds and perhaps thousands of Egyptian Vultures since its construction in the 1950s.

BSPB’s work started with investigating the threat to the eagles and vultures in Bulgaria, and then working with grid operators such as EVN to retrofit insulation materials to make the lines safe. It then became clear that these birds also faced similar threats at the other end of their migratory flyway. BirdLife’s UNDP/GEF Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) project and its local NGO partner, the Sudanese Wildlife Society, decided to take action. Thanks to their efforts, in 2014, the Sudanese Company for Electricity Transmission finalized the decommissioning of the Port Sudan power line and has replaced it by a new fully insulated and bird-safe line.

Dr Ivan Scrase, Acting Head of Climate Change Policy from the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) added: “This is great work, solving problems caused by mistakes in the past when there was less awareness of the risks power lines can cause for birds, and how to avoid them using good design and routing. As we build the infrastructure needed to deal with the huge threat climate change poses to the world’s wildlife, we must get it right first time”.

This “Good Practice Award” rewards outstanding practice in grid development, innovation and improvement to existing practices in the field – be it environmental protection, stakeholder participation or one of the many other fields surrounding grid development. Its main purpose is “to inspire future action and innovative thinking”.

English illegal bird egg collector fined in Bulgaria

This video is called Birds in Bulgaria.

From Wildlife Extra:

English bird egg collector fined £2,000 by Bulgarian court

An English egg collector living in Bulgaria has been given a £2,000 fine and a six month suspended prison sentence by a Bulgarian court for illegally possessing 16 birds’ eggs and three taxidermy specimens.

Jan Frederick Ross, a known and previously convicted egg collector, is believed to have moved to Bulgaria in 2004 from Greater Manchester following a trio of convictions for egg collecting in the UK.

The raid on his home followed a lengthy investigation by the Burgas Police, assisted by The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and the RSPB.

The 16 birds’ eggs found included the egg of a Griffon Vulture, a rare breeding bird in Bulgaria (60 pairs).

Also found were detailed diaries and photographs that indicated Ross’ egg collecting in Bulgaria was much further-reaching than the 16 eggs found. The diaries revealed over a thousand potentially illegally collected bird’s eggs including a number of very rare breeding birds such as a clutch of eggs from the globally endangered Egyptian Vulture (24 pairs in Bulgaria) and three clutches of the Imperial Eagle (24 pairs in Bulgaria). No charges could be brought against Ross for taking of these eggs and the location of them remains unknown.

Dimitar Gradinarov, a Bird Crime Officer for BSPB, said: “We are very grateful for the fantastic response from the police in Burgas and the specialist help from the RSPB who have years of experience dealing with such crimes. We have been working incredibly hard to protect the imperial eagle, Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture and others birds in Bulgaria.

“It was shocking to see just how much damage one man could do to rare breeding birds in our country. We hope that this case will emphasise the importance of tackling wildlife crimes in our country and to remind the Bulgarian authorities [of] the need to have the necessary resources for this work.”

Saving Bulgarian birds from power line deaths

This video is about making power lines in Bulgaria safe for birds.

From BirdLife:

BSPB cooperates with power companies to secure bird-killing power lines in Bulgaria

By Elodie Cantaloube, Fri, 12/09/2014 – 09:59

It was around the middle of August when the nice summer vibe was broken for the bird lovers in Varna, Bulgaria. Around 29 storks were found dead in the village of Vaglen by picnickers who wanted nothing but to chill on a Sunday afternoon. Instead, they had to confront the horrifying sight of the birds which had perched in hazardous electricity poles, causing their death.

Electrocution by badly designed electricity poles is one of the most serious threats to birds in the world. It not only concerns white storks but also raptors, including endangered species like the Imperial Eagle. In the region of the Sakar Mountain, in south-eastern Bulgaria, one of the richest regions in terms of birds of prey and home to half of the country’s Imperial Eagle population, it caused the death of 67% of the birds between 2009 and 2013, according to a study involving satellite tracking of 25 juvenile Imperial Eagles.

Some birds like storks and raptors species tend to perch on the highest parts of the trees, buildings and electricity poles. Although nowadays safer poles are being produced, the ones composing the electricity web in Bulgaria were designed in a way that makes them dangerous to birds. They are notably fatal to migratory birds like white storks, which gather in hundreds and sometimes in thousands in Bulgaria to rest and feed before flying to or back from Africa.

To address the issue, BSPB (BirdLife in Bulgaria) has been engaging with power companies in the country. In collaboration with EVN Bulgaria and ENERGO-PRO, over 1,100 insulations  have been installed, avoiding many incidents not only for storks, but also for other endangered species like the Egyptian Vulture and the Imperial Eagle. Also, within the project Save the Raptor, for which BSPB received the very first Natura 2000 Conservation Award this year, our Partner has been cooperating with the company EVN Bulgaria on the insulation of about 700 dangerous power lines and the burying of overhead cables in nesting areas. BSPB provided the insulation caps while EVN mounted them.

See a video of pylon safeguarding [at the top of this blog post].

These installations already permitted to reduce by thousands the number of dead storks and raptors. The securing of the electricity network also benefit the corporate sector: every time a bird is electrocuted, the network material is damaged and the power supply along the line is discontinued, causing discomfort to the costumers. This is why the power companies have decided to go further. EVN, for example, has developed in cooperation with BSPB the project to secure a further 46 km of overhead power lines into underground cables and retrofit 2,740 poles, based on the mapping of the most dangerous poles produced by BSPB.

For more information, visit www.bspb.org.

Red-breasted geese migration, new research

This video says about itself:

Striving to save the Red Breasted Goose

2 November 2012

Euronews coverage of the first ever tagging of Red-breasted geese with GPS transmitters, a scientific experiment within the LIFE+ Safe Ground for Redbreasts project, carried out in January 2011 in NE Bulgaria.

From BirdLife:

Decebal and Darko’s journey across Europe: our Red-breasted Geese successfully reached Siberia!

By Elodie Cantaloube, Fri, 25/07/2014 – 13:38

Let me introduce you to Decebal and Darkos, two special Red-breasted Geese that were selected by SOR (BirdLife in Romania) to carry a satellite transmitter to provide conservationists with information on their migratory journey.

Red-breasted Goose, is a distinct red, black and white bird that breeds in the Taymyr Peninsula of Siberia and is one of the most beautiful geese in the world.  It’s also one of the rarest species of geese, and has a small, rapidly declining population. It’s threatened by illegal killing along its migration route and by changes to habitats and is listed as Endangered by BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List.

SOR has been working intensively to protect this species.

The project “Save Ground for Redbreasts” aims to increase our knowledge of the route the geese take from the wintering areas in Bulgaria and Romania to the breeding grounds in Arctic, through satellite-tracking of a pair of geese: Decebal and Darko. The two adult male red-breasted geese were tagged with satellite transmitters, after being caught in mid-February 2014, near Durankulak Lake (Bulgaria).

Fortunately, Decebal reached Siberia on the 14 of June, 95 days after his departure. The goose arrived at his breeding grounds in the vicinity of Lake Kuchumka, 8922 kilometres away from his departure point.

The birds’ beautiful journey through Europe up to the northern part of Eurasia can be followed in this website, where SOR/BirdLife Romania uploads every 2-3 days his new positions.