More than 100 fallow and red deer released in Rhodope Mountains rewilding landscape

7 February 2023

Over the last few months, a total of 17 red deer and 96 fallow deer have been released into the Rhodope Mountains rewilding landscape in Bulgaria.

Благородни елени. Снимка: Богдан Боев

By the end of the month another 35 red deer will to be transported and released in core rewilding areas. The animals are under constant observation by Rewilding Rhodopes team and local partners. The reintroduced and restocked animals will not be hunted for a minimum of 5 years.

“Our goal is to restore two of the three deer species living in Bulgaria throughout Eastern Rhodopes,” says Stefan Avramov, Rewilding officer.   In total, more than 600 fallow deer and 50 red deer have been relocated in the Eastern Rhodopes over the last 10 years, creating several increasing subpopulations of these two species. It is expected another few hundreds more animals to be release in the Rewilding Rhodopes landscape to help advance nature recovery in Rhodope Mountains. This is the largest deer reintroduction program in Bulgaria.

Fallow deer release. Image: Stefan Avramov/Rewilding Rhodopes
Stefan Avramov

The remains of dead fallow and red deer are an important food base for the griffon, Egyptian vulture and black vulture. In the Rhodope Mountains rewilding landscape in southern Bulgaria, for example, the ongoing restocking of fallow and red deer herds is supporting predation, scavenging and natural grazing. Local wolf populations prey on the deer, which boosts the availability of wild carcasses for the area’s endangered vulture species (griffon, cinereous and Egyptian). “In the coming years, we expect to witness more evidence of vultures “scavenging” deer carcasses – be it photos from camera traps or satellite transmitters tracking the movements of animals and birds,” says Avramov. The team is helping to close the so-called “Circle of Life“.

At relatively low density, free-roaming deer also help to create open habitats that can help a wide range of other wildlife species thrive. Grazing on shrubs and trees, deer along with other herbivores help maintain the mosaic landscape of the Eastern Rhodopes, which is of great importance for the preservation of the region’s rich biodiversity.

Deer are an interesting object for tourists and photographers to observe and photograph and contribute to establishing the area as an interesting tourist destination.

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