Refugees ill-treated in Bulgaria

This video from Britain says about itself:

UK: Hundreds of pro-refugee protesters march on Downing Street

12 November 2015

Over 500 pro-refugee protesters marched on London’s Downing Street, Thursday, to decry British Prime Minister David Cameron’s policy on migrants and asylum seekers.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Oxfam: Bulgaria mistreats refugees

Today, 11:51

Refugees traveling through Bulgaria are regularly mistreated by the authorities in that country. This says a report by human rights organization Oxfam. They are said to be beaten, shot at and robbed.

The report was written after interviews with 110 migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. These are refugees who try to reach Western Europe by land. They came into Bulgaria via Turkey.

A number of migrants had to deal with physical violence by the Bulgarian police and attacks by police dogs. Others said they were extorted.

Stefano Baldini, Oxfam’s director for South East Europe, believes that the European Union should intervene to ensure that human rights are safeguarded. “The testimonies are representative of the situation in Bulgaria.”


In the British newspaper The Telegraph an Afghan immigrant says that he has been imprisoned without reason and had to bribe the police for 400 euros to be released again. Another man was mistreated because he had no papers on him. A policeman hit him with a gun in his face.

An Afghan man who wanted to cross the border between Bulgaria and Serbia told The Associated Press that one policeman hit him with tree branches. In another incident, a Bulgarian \policeman is said to have put a gun to the head of a refugee and to have robbed him of his money, cell phone and other valuables.

Two refugees said they had to pay 2,500 euros to be smuggled into Bulgaria, but on arrival there they were transferred to the police. To avoid being arrested, they had to bribe the officers for 200 euros. When their group later fled into the woods, the police opened fire on them. Two persons were injured.

Last month, Bulgarian police shot dead an Afghan man who had entered the country via Turkey.

Afghan war refugee killed at Bulgarian border

This video says about itself:

MSF raises death toll from US airstrikes on Kunduz hospital to 24

14 October 2015

Doctors without Borders, MSF has raised to 24 the death toll from the US airstrike on a hospital in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province.

The organization says the death toll was raised as two of its missing staff members are now presumed dead. 22 of MSF staffers who were initially unaccounted for are alive. Doctors without borders is still trying to contact nine patients who went missing following the strikes on October 3. MSF International President Joanne Liu says they are still in the dark about why a medical facility packed with patients was targeted for more than an hour.

Unfortunately, Turkey is not the only country where armed forces kill refugees. In Turkey, it was refugees from the Syrian war. Now, in Bulgaria, a refugee, probably from the Afghan war.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Bulgarian border guards shoot a refugee dead

Today, 07:54

Bulgarian border guards have shot a refugee dead. Presumably it was an Afghan. The man tried along with dozens of other refugees to illegally cross the Turkish-Bulgarian border and the group resisted arrest, says the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior.

The group tried near Sredets town to enter the country, where border guards are said to have fired warning shots. One of the bullets hit the man, who died on his way to hospital. …

There is no other source confirming the version of the Bulgarian government.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) condemned the use of force and appealed to Bulgaria not to treat refugees like criminals.

“We, at UNHCR, are deeply shocked by this incident,” said spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov.

“We deplore the death of an Afghan asylum seeker, trying to reach safety across the border. We call on the Bulgarian authorities to conduct an immediate, transparent and independent investigation. Seeking asylum is an universal human right and not a crime.”

The Black Sea state, which is a member of the EU but not of the border-free Schengen Area, has deployed more border police, installed cameras and motion sensors, and is extending a security fence to cover 100 miles of its border with Turkey.

At least 11,000 asylum seekers have entered Bulgaria since January and the number is expected to reach 15,000 by the end of the year. Most are fleeing Syria and use Bulgaria as a transit route to wealthier countries such as Germany and Sweden.

In recent days, a total of eight refugees have been killed in two separate incidents by border guards at the European Union’s external border with Turkey: here.

‘WHAT I LEARNED WHEN FOUR REFUGEES MOVED IN’ “I asked Marija what she wanted most for herself and her family. She gently grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes: ‘Sophia, all I want is a small room for my family. A table for us to eat together. And a bed for us to share. I didn’t come to Germany to be a millionaire. I came here because I wanted to be allowed to be a human being. To be happy.'”[HuffPost]

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.”