Wildlife monitoring and conservation actions in National Park Rila
Amongst the significant issues for the park is the damage on the woods caused by the bark beetles. Thousands of hectares were destroyed by this insect in Rila, Pirin and the Rodopi mountains. One of the measures carried out is to place pheromone traps in the vulnerable areas. Biologists are constantly monitoring with what temps the population of the bark beetles is growing and are the measures taken efficient. The existence of private hunting grounds next to the protected natural zones is another problem. The hunters and the owners of the hunting zones use baits to direct the animals to the hunting pints. In some cases the bites attract also animals, like wild pigs, deers and mountain goats, which habitats are in the protected zones of the park. To keep those animals away from the hunting grounds, park officers regularly place salt licks on their routes. Another conservation action, implemented in cooperation with NGOs, is to collect the stools from the mountain goats. The purpose is to help biologists analyze the reasons for the high mortality rate among the populations of these species. They are expecting to find out the bacteria or the poisonous material, which is causing the deaths. The collected samples will be analyzed in national and foreign laboratories and based on the obtained results preventive measures will be suggested.
The cost of one pheromone trap is 20-30 Euro. Depending on the area to be covered the cost may reach 2-3OOO Euro. The cost of the salt licks is not significant. The placement of salt licks can be done by the park officers, therefore not additional costs are associated with this action.
Evidence of success
The placement of salt leaks brought good results since the populations of deers and mountain goats in the area keep stable for the last 1-2 years. The number of animals in some of the monitored herds increased by almost 100% for the last two years. Ongoing research is taking place to find out how to protect the mountain goats from consuming the poisonous grass.
The teams collecting the samples of the goat stools had difficulties reaching those samples because in most cases they could be found on steep rocky slopes. No challenges have been encountered with the implementation of the rest of the actions.
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 caused by human activities or by invasive species. 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.