Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

Conservation of black and griffon vultures in the Rhodope mountains

Griffon vulture soaring above distant mountain slope.

A griffon vulture soars high in the sky on a thermal updraft.
Bruno D'Amicis / Rewilding Europe

Project name: Conservation of black and griffon vultures in the cross-border Rhodope mountains
Acronym: LIFE RE-Vultures
Reference code: LIFE14 NAT/NL/000901
Duration: 5 years. Start date 01.01.2016. End date 30.06.2021
Total budget: 2,198,572 euros
EU contribution: 1,648,015 euros

Latest news:

  • First griffon vulture webcam broadcasts live from Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains

    6. February 2018

    The camera will hopefully offer thrilling close-up views of a nesting vulture pair, giving watchers a better understanding of this majestic species and boosting conservation efforts. A newly installed live webcam in the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area is now providing online viewers a rare glimpse into the lives of Bulgarian griffon vultures. Located in the …

  • EU nature budget post-2020 needs significant increase

    12. January 2018

    The European Union’s multi-annual financial framework is currently being reviewed for the post-2020 period. Rewilding Europe, together with a number of other leading European conservation NGOs in the European Habitats Forum, is calling for the budget of the LIFE programme to be significantly increased, along with a range of other amendments.   With the European Union …

  • Endangered birds to benefit from artificial nest building in Western Iberia

    11. January 2018

    Members of the LIFE project “Club de Fincas por la Conservación del Oeste Ibérico”, including many employees of Rewilding Europe partner Associação Transumância e Natureza, came together late last year in the Western Iberia rewilding area to learn how to build nesting platforms. Encouraging birds to nest in protected areas such as this will help endangered …

  • European Rewilding Network webinar covers Circle of Life

    28. December 2017

    This year’s final European Rewilding Network webinar, held in December, saw members from eight European countries come together online to discuss and learn the importance of leaving carrion in nature.  Rewilding Europe regularly organises webinars for members of the European Rewilding Network (ERN) to discuss rewilding related topics and share insight and experience. The network currently boasts …

  • Two black vultures found dead in Rhodopes region in Greece probably due to poison baits

    20. December 2017

    Two black vultures were found dead in Rhodopes region in Greece probably due to poison baits last week. Еarly December, the anti-poison team of WWF Greece, Ela and Kiko, received a call from the Management Body of Dadia National Park about a Black vulture tagged with a satellite transmitter¹ which had been sending out repeated …

  • The Circle of Life project: supporting Europe’s scavengers

    19. December 2017

    ARK Nature’s Circle of Life project, which aims to increase the availability of carrion in nature, began life as a groundbreaking way of helping endangered scavengers in the Netherlands. Rewilding Europe, which has already adopted the Circle of Life approach in its rewilding areas (by enabling wildlife comeback and reintroducing herbivores), is now working to …

  • First-Ever Live Griffon Vultures web Camera installed in Rhodope mountains

    18. December 2017

    In December team from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation placed a video camera in a potential Griffon Vulture nest which will enable us to monitor closely and in real time the everyday life of these rare birds. Griffon Vultures are known to be caring parents, as both …

  • Balkan anti-poison dog units play a critical conservation role

    12. December 2017

    With the first anti-poison dog units patrolling the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area from 2016, their counterparts on the Greek side of the border are also carrying out equally valuable work.  In 2016 the first anti-poison dog unit – comprising a highly trained dog and handler – began patrolling the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area in Bulgaria. …

  • Less roosting griffon vultures in Rhodope mountains in 2017

    5. December 2017

    Fewer  griffon vultures were counted this year  at the annual census of griffon vultures on the Balkan Peninsula. This year, barely 145 griffon vultures were counted along Arda River in Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, 40 fewer than in 2016. The area is home of the largest colony of griffon vultures in Bulgaria. Last year a record …

  • Seven more artificial nests attract black vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes

    5. December 2017

    This autumn seven more artificial nests will attract black vultures in the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. In 2016 the first three nests for the rare birds  were built and are now numbering 10 nests. Black vultures have disappeared from Bulgaria some decades ago. The idea of ​​artificial nests is to attract birds from Dadia National …

  • WWF Greece’s Anti-poison team in action

    15. November 2017

    First Anti-poison Dog Unit in Bulgaria started patrolling in Rhodope Mountains in 2016. The main objective of the Unit is to create poison-free areas by controlling and removing poisoned baits before they can cause damage. However,  pioneers on the Balkans are two  Greek Canine Teams especially trained for the detection of poison baits. Since 2014  …

  • Five more black vultures tagged as LIFE Vultures project progresses

    14. November 2017

    The birds, tagged with GPS transmitters in Dadia National Park in Greece, will offer additional insight into black vulture behaviour and movement on and around the Balkan Peninsula. By supporting conservation measures, this will hopefully reinforce the comeback of this magnificent yet endangered species. As part of the five-year LIFE Vultures project which began in …

  • Rhodopes GPS tagging provides platform for LIFE Vultures success

    2. November 2017

    As part of the ongoing LIFE Vultures project, a growing number of griffon and black vultures in and around the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area are being tagged with GPS transmitters. The geospatial data these transmitters provide will be critical to the comeback of these magnificent yet endangered birds. Driven by data Locked between the valleys …

  • Bulgarian exhibition presents the avian wonders of the Rhodopes

    9. October 2017

    This October an exhibition titled “Lords of the Rhodopean Skies” is taking place at the Regional History Museum of the town of Kardzhali in southern Bulgaria. The aim of the exhibition is to reconnect people with nature by presenting the wild beauty and diversity of the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area. The exhibition was officially opened …

  • Children celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day in the Rhodopes

    8. September 2017

    The first weekend in September saw a crowd of more than 40 people gather in the town of Madzharovo, in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains, to mark International Vulture Awareness Day Taking place across the world on this weekend every year, the day is designed to publicise and promote the conservation of vultures to a global audience, …

  • Introducing the Circle of Life

    2. September 2017

    With an informative publication, Rewilding Europe and ARK Nature present a new way to support Europe’s scavengers. As a vulture’s head disappears inside a carcass, a beech marten bares its teeth at a red fox intent on taking a bite of the same carrion. A closer look reveals a  diverse cleaning crew of beetles and …

  • New campaign to ban diclofenac in Europe

    27. July 2017

    Despite its catastrophic impact on Asian vulture populations in the 1990s, veterinary diclofenac is still used and marketed in countries such as Spain and Italy. The Vulture Conservation Foundation, a partner of Rewilding Europe in the LIFE Vultures project in the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, has launched a campaign to ban its use in Europe. …

  • Young Bulgarian explorers gather at the second Kartali Nature Camp

    9. June 2017

    With the slogan “Become an explorer”, this year’s Kartali Nature Camp inspired more than 60 people to explore the dramatic beauty of Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains, and to learn more about the local LIFE Vultures Project. Held between May 12 and 17 on the banks of the Studen Kladenets Reservoir, the event, attended by everyone from …

  • More vultures equipped with satellite transmitters in the Rhodope Mountains

    5. June 2017

    Ten griffon vultures (nine adults and one juvenile) in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains were fitted with satellite transmitters at the end of May. These will provide critical data on the distribution, migration and possible threats to the birds, enhancing conservation of the species in the region. The transmitters were fitted as part of the LIFE Vultures …

  • Lords of the Rhodopean Skies: a new wildlife exhibition takes off in Sofia

    25. May 2017

    A visually stunning new exhibition, showcasing the natural wonders of the Eastern Rhodopes, is wowing visitors by making the Bulgarian capital Sofia a wilder place. Titled “Lords of the Rhodopean Skies”, it features 32 images depicting some of the most astonishing natural sights of the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area. With the event organised under the …

  • Restrictive veterinary legislation hinders the creation of “vulture restaurants” in Bulgaria

    6. May 2017

    The restrictive veterinary legislation in Bulgaria and the proximity of our country to Turkey, where contagious diseases come from, hinders the implementation of European regulations related to the feeding of vultures and the creation of vulture restaurants aimed at satisfying the food requirements of vultures. In Greece and Bulgaria recent regulation has not even been …

  • A day among the lords of the skies

    13. April 2017

    Volen Arkumarev, a conservation officer with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), is working on the LIFE Vultures project. He recounts a record breaking griffon vulture monitoring session in the Rhodope Mountains. It’s a cold morning and the Arda river is flowing through the rocky hills in its calmness. Below the deep …

  • The unexpected visit of a Black Vulture

    6. April 2017

    Who said that the black vultures live only in the mountains, far away from people? Our long work on those rare and significantly beautiful vultures confirms, every time we have the chance to observe them, that despite the fact that the black vultures are usually lonely birds, they can suddenly appear in residential areas near …

  • New red deer herd released in Rhodopes

    3. April 2017

    As part of an ongoing reintroduction of red and fallow deer in the area, the animals will change habitats through grazing and provide an important prey base for local carnivores and scavengers. Tintyava, in the core Rhodope rewilding area, is since March, home to a new herd of red deer. Although the seven-strong group of adults …

  • Reaching out in the Rhodopes

    24. March 2017

    Nature-related tourism training helps more than 30 participants in the Eastern Rhodopes. Last week more than 30 participants took part in a second nature and vulture-related tourism development training session in the Eastern Rhodopes, organised by Rewilding Rhodopes and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. This specialised course, offered to small businesses and …

  • Electrocution caused the dead of the rare black vulture

    16. March 2017

    An adult black vulture was found dead due to collision against electric line, in mid-February, reported WWF Greece. The bird was found in Filiouri valley, study area of Life project, after a prompt call of the forest guard from the Sapes Forest Service.   The Rhodope Mountains are home to the only breeding colony of …

  • More red and fallow deer released in the Rhodopes

    19. February 2017

    In early February further progress was made in the rewilding of the Rhodopes area in Bulgaria. The Rewilding Rhodopes team released nine red deer in the nature reserve of Studen Kladenets, and a group of fallow deer near Tintiava, in the Eastern Rhodopes. Introducing small groups of animals over successive years is proving a good …

  • A Spatial Approach

    14. February 2017

    Jelle Harms, an expert mapper and spatial analyst currently working with the LIFE Vultures project, tells us about his valuable work.   From mapping national parks for Google in West Africa to vegetation change studies in Zambia with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, my passion for ecological mapping and spatial analysis has taken me all …

  • Satellite transmitters to help fallow and red deer reintroduction in Rhodopes

    10. February 2017

    Aiding restoration efforts in the Rhodope rewilding area, satellite transmitters are now being used to provide valuable scientific information about the ecology and biology of fallow deer.    At the beginning of 2017, five fallow deer were equipped with satellite transmitters by veterinarians and experts from the Rhodopes rewilding team. These are all now working …

  • Rhodopes census records rare species

    23. January 2017

    Waterfowl count on Bulgaria’s Arda River reveals some special visitors.    On the weekend of 14-15 January, more than 7,000 birds of 32 different species were recorded at the annual mid-winter waterfowl census on the Arda River in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. Experts and volunteers from Rewilding Rhodopes and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection …

  • The number of griffon vultures roosting in Eastern Rhodopes continues to grow

    22. November 2016

    The number of griffon vultures in the Eastern Rhodopes continues to grow, shows the annual census of griffon vultures on the Balkan Peninsula. This year, 184 griffon vultures were counted along Arda River in Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, home of the largest colony of griffon vultures in Bulgaria. Last year there were 178 griffon vultures …

  • Active participation of LIFE Vultures at international vulture conservation events

    19. November 2016

    November was filled with a diverse range of events, lectures, workshops, and activities related to the protection of vulture species in Europe and worldwide.  Experts from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) took аn active part in most of them and presented some of the results and activities from the project “Conservation …

  • Satellite transmitters track Greek black vultures

    4. November 2016

    During the last few weeks, 11 black vultures were equipped with satellite transmitters in Dadia National Park, in the Greek part of the Rhodope Mountains. These transmitters will provide important scientific data about the distribution, movements and possible threats, which will further help identify future conservation actions for the species in this region. These actions …

  • Bulgarian griffon vulture explores Middle East

    1. November 2016

    This summer, seven griffon vultures – four adults and three young – were fitted with satellite transmitters in the breeding colony near Madzarhovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains. The first interesting results about their movements are already being revealed, with one young bird undertaking a long journey to the southeast. The vulture flew across two …

  • Training course – Wildlife watching enterprise in Rhodope Mountains

    27. October 2016

    This October, Rewilding Rhodopes organized a special training course on the management and development of wildlife watching enterprise and wildlife photography in Madzharovo, Bulgaria. The training was part of the LIFE Project “Conservation of black and griffon vultures in Rhodope Mountains” (LIFE Vultures), and connected more than 30 participants that gained valuable knowledge, exchanged experiences and …

  • Poisoning hits wildlife in Eastern Rhodopes – Anti-poison dog units in action

    24. October 2016

    Just after we officially launched the first Anti-Poison Dog Unit last week, Bulgaria witnessed a serious new case of poisoning in the Eastern Rhodopes close to the Greek border. In just a few days time, seven wolves, five shepherd dogs, one wild boar, two foxes, one hedgehog and one stone marten were found near a …

  • New cases of poisoned animals in Eastern Rhodopes

    18. October 2016

    New case of poisoned animal in the Eastern Rhodopes was registered this Sunday. This time the authorities and experts from Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Green Balkans found wild boar after a signal from concerned hunters from the region of Strazhets, Krumovgrad. Over the weekend Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds …

  • First Antipoison Dog Unit starts patrolling in Rhodope Mountains

    11. October 2016

    This summer, Nikolay Terziev from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) spent nearly two months in Hungary where he was trained as dog handler for the first Antipoison Dog Unit in Bulgaria. The main objective of the Unit is to create poison-free areas by controlling and removing poisoned baits before they can …

  • LIFE – Vultures Project presented during Vulture Awareness Day celebration

    15. September 2016

    Last Friday, the Life project “Conservation of Black and Griffon vultures in the cross-border Rhodope Mountains” held its opening ceremony during the International Vulture Awareness Day celebration in Bulgaria. The project focuses on the recovery and further expansion of black and griffon vulture populations in this part of the Balkan region, simultaneously developing nature based …

  • Educating the future “rewilding” generation in Bulgaria

    20. June 2016

    Rewilding Europe places high value on education programmes and activities for kids, students, volunteers, activists and other nature enthusiasts. We believe that an essential part of our work is to communicate and share our passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural world, and the philosophy of rewilding with the generations to come. In May, the …

  • Eastern Rhodopes welcome this year’s first griffon vulture chick

    13. April 2016

    This March the first griffon vulture chick hatched in the Studen Kladenets Natura 2000 site, located in the core of the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area. With spring in full rise, more chicks will hatch in the coming weeks continuing the positive trend in the griffon vulture population in Bulgaria. This year vulture experts and the rewilding team …

  • LIFE Bison and LIFE Vultures projects kicked-off

    19. February 2016

    A major gathering of nature conservation organisations took place this week in Haskovo, Bulgaria. Members from Rewilding Europe, Rewilding Rhodopes, Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/Birdlife Bulgaria, WWF Romania, WWF Greece, Vulture Conservation Foundation and Hellenic Ornithological Society/BirdLife Greece gathered for the kick-off meetings and training sessions of two LIFE funded projects that officially …