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Byala Reka Meanders protected site

The Byala Reka Meanders protected site has an area of 1531.98 ha. It was established with Order No:RD-474 of 11.07.2001 by the Ministry of the Environment and Water, on the suggestion of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, with the aim of preserving rare and endangered animals and plants as well as characteristic landscapes. It is in the land of the villages of Zhelezari and Meden Buk, the Ivaylovgrad Municipality. It encompasses part of the valley of the Byala Reka River, which is uncommonly beautiful and biologically diverse. Along the river banks grow some of the forests, rare in Bulgaria, of the Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis), included in Bulgaria’s Red Book. The Byala Reka Meanders are one of the richest places herpetologically in the country. Here, 7 amphibian species and 19 reptile species can be found. They include the endangered snake-eyed lizard (Ophisops elegans), the European legless lizard (Ophisaurus apodus), the European blind snake (Typhlops vermicularis), the Caspian swamp tortoise (Mauremys caspica), the spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca), and Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni).

94 bird species nidificate in the protected site. Here one can watch the Egyptian vulture (Gyps fulvus), the black kite (Milvus migrans), the golden eagle (Aquila chrisaetos), the Levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes), and the black stork (Ciconia nigra), all included in the World Red List. The region is a regular feeding and resting place for the black vulture (Aegypius monachus), included in the World Red List. Of the mammals included in the World Red List, there are the Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus Euryale), Daubenton's Bat and the greater noctule bat, also the otter (Lutra lutra). In the waters of the Byala Reka River a species of fish, new for science, was discovered, and it is to be found here only – the Rhodope ray-finned fish (Cobitis rhodopensis).

 
 

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