The camp, held annually in the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, saw young Bulgarians enjoy a range of conventional and unconventional activities.
Taking place between May 11 and 16 in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, this year’s Kartali Nature camp witnessed an entertaining mix of traditional and less traditional camp activities. These were enjoyed by a group more than 50 people – mostly from the younger generation – who camped out on the banks of the Studen Kladenets Reservoir.
This was the third annual camp run as part of the LIFE project entitled “Conservation of black and griffon vultures in the Rhodope Mountains” (“kartali” is the Bulgarian word for black vulture). The organisers from BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria prepared a programme that included a variety of activities during the day, and presentations and discussions during the evening on rewilding and related topics.
Camp participants, or “kartaltsi”, enjoyed a number of visits to the field. They were also trained up in the monitoring and tracking of reptiles, amphibians and mammals, botany, and the ringing of common bird species. Special attention was naturally paid to the camp “hosts” – the nearby griffon vulture colony – which is the only indigenous griffon vulture colony in Bulgaria.
Participants were given the opportunity to ring and release songbirds early in the morning, and to learn what useful scientific information this activity brings. In their free time they engaged in a range of local recreational activities, including hikes to natural beauty spots, kayaking and horse riding.
A number of volunteer activities were also carried out, including cleaning waste brought onto the shores of the Studen Kladenets reservoir from upriver. Natural springs and pools in the Boynik Mountains, which provide fresh water to both wild and domestic animals in the area, were cleaned up, while participants also helped to construct a deer enclosure used for deer reintroduction.
Several campers were also given the unique opportunity to help fit satellite transmitters to four Egyptian vultures located in the area’s adaptation aviary. This activity was carried out as part of the project entitled “New Hope for the Egyptian Vulture”.
Last but not least, camp participants also experienced another special event – the first “Kartali” wedding. They were invited to attend the open air ceremony, which was held at one of the most picturesque spots in the area, by the bride and groom, who were themselves given a tribute by a squadron of vultures soaring overhead.