© Michele Mendi, LIPU

Between May 17th and 19th in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) is hosting an international meeting bringing together representatives of nature conservation organizations from Greece, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Jordan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Niger, the United Kingdom, and France. A number of other countries, such as Turkey, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, will join online.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the activities, challenges, achievements so far, and next steps within the world’s largest LIFE project for the conservation of the endangered Egyptian vulture – “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE”, in which BSPB is a coordinating organization.

On the first day of the meeting, the achievements in the nature conservation and communication activities of the project in the breeding areas of the species in the Balkans, on its migration route, and in its winter grounds in Africa will be presented. The second day is dedicated to the development of an “After-LIFE” plan – a plan of activities that need to continue after the completion of the project for the protection of the species.

On the third day (Thursday, May 19), the participants will visit the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Center in Stara Zagora, where they will see the aviaries with pairs of Egyptian vultures, part of the program to actively strengthen the population in Bulgaria. The nature protection center of BSPB “Eastern Rhodopes” will be visited, as well as the aviary in the Valchi Dol reserve. There, for the fifth year in a row, young captive-bred birds are preparing for life in the wild by the delayed-release method. This year there are six young vultures and they will be released in two weeks.

The meeting will be attended by Mrs Simona Bacchereti, representative of the European Commission – the main donor of the project, as well as the project monitor – Mr. Stoyan Yotov.

The “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” project was launched in July 2017 with financial support from the EU’s LIFE program. The project unites the efforts of 20 institutions and organizations from 14 countries in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa with a mission to save the Egyptian vulture.