Saving the Saker falcon in Bulgaria
The overall objective of this urgent national project is to prevent the extinction of the saker falcon as a breeding species in Bulgaria. It is also aiming to reverse a 90 per cent decline over the last 10 years due to nest robbery for illegal international trade in falcons and critical habitat loss.
- Expand the programme of identifying and actively protecting natural saker falcon nests.
- Expand the programme of installing an additional 100 metal and 100 wooden artificial nests at protected priority locations.
- Continue developing and subsequently use the saker falcon DNA fingerprinting protocol.
- Strengthen the state and local authorities to enforce the EU and Bulgarian conservation legislation to ensure active management of all Natura 2000 sites which support saker falcons.
- Increase the capacity of BSPB to sustain their saker falcon conservation efforts beyond 2010.
- Enhance the project cooperation and participation of all key interest groups, in support of saker falcon conservation.
- Increase awareness amongst key interest groups by communicating the importance and value of this work.
- Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the 2008 project activities.
- January 2008 - Project started.
- March 2008 - BSPB saker experts visited BirdLife Hungary in for intensive information exchange and to learn about the very successful experience.
- November 2008 - Requested submission of project proposal for extension until 2010.
- November 2008 - EC Life+ project to conserve imperial eagles and saker falcons in central and southern Bulgaria confirmed for BSPB.
- December 2008 - BBC Wildlife Fund project funding extended.
- Project completion date: December 2010.
- The Bulgarian government included all 114 IBAs proposed by BSPB as ‘Special Protection Areas’ in the official list of EU Natura 2000 sites as, including all 15 saker falcon sites. This in itself is a major conservation achievement. After this initial step, BSPB prepared and officially submitted 114 written statements to the government proposing amendments to the local designation orders which represent the next consultative stage of the process. Twenty-nine (29) of the designation statements include recommendations related to saker falcons. 15 for recent saker falcons observations and 14 others for preserving the species’ former breeding sites.
- Fifty-two (52) metal artificial nest platforms have been installed in high voltage (400 kV) power lines and other electricity pylons. This process has been undertaking after formal agreement was reached with the National Electric Company (NEC) on the design, procedure, training requirements and focal areas for installation.
- Forty-five (45) artificial wooden nests using the new designs created for the project have been installed on suitable mature oak trees, close to the sites where satellite-tagged juvenile saker falcon from Hungary was recorded). Plans are well advanced for the installation of the remaining 46 wooden nest boxes.
- Rock nesting sites have been inspected in seventeen areas. The permanent presence of saker falcon pairs was established in two sites and a third pair was observed at another potential breeding site. At five other sites single records of saker falcons were collected. Analysis of the breeding conditions and existence of previous observations of the species in those regions reinforces the existence of minimum six to seven breeding territories and at least two nesting pairs - the same numbers as estimated in 2007.
- BSPB are in official consultation with the Minister of Environment & Water, which has started the formal procedure to establish the DNA fingerprinting protocol in Republic of Bulgaria. This protocol is being developed in consultation with government research institutes and DNA laboratories and in consultation with international experts in molecular biologists identified the precise methodology and appropriate procedures.
- BSPB have developed and maintain a national saker falcon database and are developing cooperation for an inter-NGO database based on common agreement on conservation rules during research and conservation work on this endangered species. BSPB also proposed to the other NGOs a specific template for a common database on birds of prey related legal offences.
- BSPB saker experts visited BirdLife Hungary in March 2008 for intensive information exchange and to learn about the very successful experience of the saker falcon conservation work in the Carpathian Basin that resulted in a 75 per cent increase over the last 10 years.