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Biodiversity and wild life

The Eastern Rhodopes are located in the southernmost part of Bulgaria. They occupy the lower eastern part of the Rhodopes Massif. To the south they border with the Aegean Lowland, to the north and east with the Thracian lowland and the river of Maritza. The border with the Western Rhodopes follows the valleys of the rivers Kayaklika, Borovitza and Varbitza in Bulgaria and the Komsatos river in Greece. Their total surface is about 6000 km2, of which 70%  or about 4200 km2 is on Bulgarian territory.

The Eastern Rhodopes belong to the Aegean catchment area. Almost all rivers are drained into the Maritza river. The River Arda is the biggest river in the region. The altitude varies between 0 m near the Aegean coast up to 1483 m at Mount Papikion in Greece and 1463 m at Gjumyurdzhinski snezhnik in Bulgaria. The average altitude is 239 m. The climate is generally defined as Continental-Mediterranean both for the Bulgarian and Greek part.

The flora of the Eastern Rhodopes includes 1962 plant species (Petrova A., 2004). There are 23 Bulgarian endemics. 6 plant species are endemic for the Rhodopes and  92 are Balkan endemic species.

A total of 4329 animal species have been established in the Eastern Rhodopes (Hubenov Z. 2004). There are 278 species of birds in the region. The Eastern Rhodopes are the only breeding locality for the Griffon vulture in Bulgaria and the most important breeding area for the globally threatened Egyptian vulture on the Balkan peninsula. The only breeding colony of the Black vultures in South Eastern Europe is situated in Dadia forest in Greece and the birds regularly search for food in the Bulgarian part of the mountain. The region is one of the best strongholds for the wolf, jackal and the otter in Bulgaria. The Brown Bear started to recolonize the mountain in the last years.

Eight Natura 2000 sites cover the Bulgarian part of the Eastern Rhodopes. Seven Special Protected Areas (Bird Directive) were declared in the last year for the protection of the birds and their habitats in the region. They are covered by the extensive site of Community Interests (Habitat Directive) Rhodopi – Iztochni with a total surface of 2174 km2.


Madzharovo is a small Eastern Rhodopean town with approximately 500 inhabitants. The town is named after its protector from 1913 - Dimitar...

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Rhodopean Shorthorn cattle

Rhodopean Shorthorn cattle are the breed with the least specimens in Bulgaria. It’s a primitive form of Bos Taurus Brachyceros, left...

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