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Information on the Eastern Rhodopes in the new Red Data Book of Bulgaria

You can search online for information on rare plants and animals in the Eastern Rhodopes  listed in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. For the first time full information about all red-list species and habitats is available in the internet. On http://e-ecodb.bas.bg/rdb/en/ the updated  edition of the Red Data Book can be researched  in two languages – Bulgarian and English.

The digital edition contains three volumes. Volume 1 is about endangered plants and fungi. Volume 2 focuses on animals and volume 3 on endangered habitat types.

The Red Data Book project is financed by the Ministry of Environment and Water.

The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences issued the first edition of the Red Data Book of the Republic of Bulgaria in two volumes – Plants (1984) and Animals (1985). The 25 year old data urgently needed an update. Teams of scientists and researchers have been cooperating extensively on the new, extended edition  of the new Red Data Book, which is published now.

Let’s have a look at some Eastern Rhodopes highlights:
Over 80% of the Egyptian vulture nests in Bulgaria are concentrated in the Eastern Rhodopes. The species nests on cliffs and feeds primarily by scavenging. In recent years its numbers worldwide fell sharply. Eastern Rhodopes are one of the few regions in the Balkan Peninsula where this small vulture maintains a stronghold.. The reasons of main concern for this highly vulnerable species  are the use of pesticides in agriculture, illegal use of contaminated baits for  poisoning predators, electrocution on unprotected electric poles, rat-control with poison on  rubbish  dumps .

Eastern Rhodopes are the only place in Bulgaria where you can regularly see the Black vulture. The species was widespread in southern Europe and in Bulgaria in the past. Today, the only colony in the Balkan Peninsula is located in Dadia in Greek Eastern Rhodopes. The birds who nest there regularly forage up to  the Arda River on Bulgarian territory. Black Vulture nests on old-growth trees. In 1993 a pair bred near Studen Kladenetz. The species is threatened due to logging of old-growth forests and the illegal use of poisoned baits against predators.

In the past, Griffon vulture was distributed in the whole Bulgaria. Today it breeds only along the valley of Arda River, between Kardzhali and Madzharovo. Thanks to protection measures the species has recovered from one  pair in 1978 to more than 50 nesting pairs in recent years. A few vulture feeding sites in Eastern Rhodopes sometimes collect over 100 vultures and almost the same number of tourists watching them.

Cephalanthera epipactoides is a rare orchid species, which in Bulgaria is found only in the region of Ivaylovgrad Municipality. Part of its population is protected in the protected site of Liikana. Bulgaria is at the northern boundary of its European distribution range.

Provence Orchis is a very endangered orchid, which currently only grows near Kirkovo. The reasons for its significant range reduction are unknown.

Yuruk mullein is a local endemic Verbascum, found only in the region of the ridge Maglenik near the border with Greece. This rare  plant species is not studied at all and highly endangered.

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