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The gray crane nests again in Bulgaria after a 66-year absence, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) reports.
In 2023, a team of SDP BALKANI and WWF carried out a series of observations in the area of the Dragoman marsh, proving the return of the cranes to Bulgaria. This is due to continuous efforts to restore the wetland, which provides suitable conditions for feeding and raising a generation, after its drying up in the twentieth century. “Although it takes time and money, the revitalization of human-destroyed wetlands is being crowned with success,” the World Wildlife Fund said in its announcement.
The team of ornithologists of the Association for Wildlife (SDP) BALKANI under the leadership of Associate Professor Dr. Petar Shurulinkov has been tracking the return of the crane since 2010. The presence of adult birds during the nesting period in the area of the Dragoman marsh has been established several times over the last five years, which allowed us to assume the nesting of the species.
In the summer of 2022, a family group of 2 adults and 2 young birds was registered, which are returning this spring. In May, the young birds disappear and the adults are increasingly difficult to spot, which is normal when the pair is guarding the nest, eggs and young. On June 11 this year, experts documented the first newly hatched gray crane chick in Bulgaria since 1957.
“The conservation of the species is an extremely big challenge, as the birds are very sensitive to human presence and activities. The nest is built on the ground of grass, among masses of reeds and less often papur, and the young are nest escapees, i.e. they leave the nest immediately after hatching. This makes the eggs and young vulnerable to terrestrial predators, fires, etc.,” explains Dr. Girgina Daskalova, part of the research team, quoted by WWF.
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From there, they appealed to the general public to preserve the Dragoman marsh, its biodiversity and an emblematic bird like the crane. As the Ministry of the Environment and Water to lead the process of ensuring adequate protection of the territory, which includes declaring it as water body.
The Dragoman swamp still has the status of agricultural land, according to the World Wildlife Fund. “This hinders the measures for restoration and management of the marsh, completion of the water cycle of the Dragoman municipality, and last but not least – damages the owners of lands in the marsh,” added WWF.
Another serious problem is the lack of a treatment plant in the town of Dragoman and the inflow of waste water into the wetland without any treatment.