Wildlife monitoring and conservation actions in the Rila Mountain
Amongst the major challenges faced by the protected sites in National Park Rila are the illegal hunting, illegal fishing, irresponsible behavior of visitors and locals. As a result of this the last two decades were marked with significant reduction of the populations of species and the territories where these species can be met were significantly narrowed. In order to mitigate the negative effects of the human interaction in the Rila National Park, its administration is taking numerus actions aiming to protect the wildlife. On key tourist routs were place wildlife cameras. These cameras do not only monitor the wildlife but also make photos of persons and cars who visit the area in an unusual time or in an unusual manner – at night, in the winter, armed, etc. Observation of the photos made can point out to potential illegal activities and also help to discover the individuals who performed them. The cameras also provide opportunities for the photos to be immediately sent to the mobile phones of the security officers, allowing them to track the movement of people and cars and follow them to prevent or evidence any misdoings in the park. Efforts are also made to improve the conservation status of the Great tit. Dozens of bird houses are placed in the areas that provide good living conditions for this habitat. They are regularly monitored by the security staff to find out whether the initiative brings the expected positive results.
The cost of purchasing 10 cameras and 30 bird houses, which can be monitored by one park officer, is approximately EUR 2000. Additionally EUR 1200 are needed to cover the cost for the mobile connection with the cameras.
Evidence of success
The measures taken so far give positive results. There is a 30% increase in the population of the great tit in the areas of intervention. Recent photos from the cameras show herds of 15 to 20 wild goats and of 7 to 7 deers compared to the herds of half of this numbers, which were seen before the measures have been implemented.
It was not difficult for the park security officers to suggest locations where to be placed the various items. Several wildlife cameras were stolen but in general most of the items placed are still existent and in good condition.
Potential for learning or transfer
The proposed actions for monitoring and improving the conservation status of the species in the Rila National Park can be interesting for regions who face similar problems – depletion of wildlife due to illegal or intensive human activities in protected areas. The inventory needed for these actions is not costly and the placement and maintenance can be done by the duty officers in the respective protected area.
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