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4 December 2020

Monitoring Time in Pirin!

Monitoring Time in Pirin!

CEEweb Member: Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation

The Balkan chamois is endemic to the Balkans subspecies of the Northern chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). It is also a key species for the mountain ecosystems. The density of its population can reach several dozens of animals per square km. The chamois has a significant impact on the maintenance of open ecosystems and is also a food base for predators such as wolves, lynx, Golden eagles, vultures and crows. The species is strictly protected under the EU Habitats Directive and the Bulgarian Biodiversity Act but is nevertheless subject to regular poaching, including in the national parks.

Thus, between 6 and 9 November 2020, a chamois monitoring practice was conducted as part of the student program organized under the “Future Conservationists” project. Three students, together with experts from the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation (BBF) Stefan Avramov and Petar Vanev, went to the Pirin National Park with the task to study the number and the distribution of the Balkan chamois in the middle of their wedding period — when they are active in groups and it is easier to be observed. More than 45 chamois were found in the Southern Pirin, and several groups of chamois were found in the Northern Pirin, totalling over than 110 animals which were not afraid of people — an indicator for lack of poaching in the region.

The density of the Balkan Chamois population in the southern part of the Pirin National Park is several times lower, despite the more favourable habitats in the south. The animals there are afraid of people, which shows that poaching in the southern part of the park has not yet been completely eradicated, and it is the greatest danger to this beautiful animal, perfectly adapted to life in the mountains!

The “Future Conservationists” project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme and is implemented jointly by the Association of Parks in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Czech University of Natural Sciences in Prague.