Photo: © Svetoslav Spasov

One of the Cinereous vultures released in November within the program for the recovery of the species in the Eastern Rhodopes, implemented by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), the Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation, and the GREFA. was killed by poachers.

The female vulture, named Andalusia, was released in November along with 13 other Cinereous vultures, after six months of adaptation in a specially built aviary between Madzharovo and Ivaylovgrad. Before the release, all birds were tagged with ornithological rings and GPS transmitters, with which their movements were tracked in real time.

Черен лешояд

© Kamen Kolarov

Almost two weeks after the release, Andalusia settled in the area south of the city of Harmanli, where she spent several days. One night, her transmitter began to emit a suspicious signal. The BSPB field team visited the site to check the vulture’s condition and its latest coordinates. During the examination of the area, feathers with traces of blood and other evidence of a crime were found, as well as traces of a car. This led the team to suspect that the vulture had been shot by poachers who had destroyed the transmitter along with the bird’s carcass. The BSPB team immediately alerted the district police headquarters and investigating officers visited the scene of the incident. It is believed that the bird was shot while roosting at the site by poachers hunting with headlamps or illegal thermal scopes.

We remind you that in September 2022, the Egyptian vulture Boyana was shot in the Jebel area, and in May 2020, the Cinereous vulture Ultron was shot over the hunting farm “Zhenda” near Kardjali. In September 2021, an Imperial eagle was shot in the area of the municipality of Straldza. The perpetrators of all three crimes have not yet been identified. Meanwhile, a similar case of a Bulgarian Cinereous vulture shot last year in Hungary, from which only the transmitter and feathers were found, was successfully solved by the Hungarian Bureau of Investigation. The perpetrators are four poachers, against whom the Hungarian prosecutor’s office has already brought charges.

We insist that the institutions should make efforts to uncover these crimes, as well as strengthen controls to prevent poaching. It is also necessary to speed up the creation of the specialized police unit for investigating crimes against nature.