More than 80 fallow deer released in Rodope Mountains rewilding landscape this winter

18 February 2022

Following a series of releases this winter a total of 81 fallow deer were transported and released in the Rodope Mountains in Bulgaria this winter. In collaboration with local partners, the Rewilding Rhodopes team has been working for many years to re-establish viable populations of both red and fallow deer in the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, with more than 500 fallow and 50 red deer reintroduced at different sites, creating several growing subpopulations of these two species.

Image: Bogdan Boev

By re-establishing red and fallow deer populations in the Eastern Rhodopes the local rewilding team and partners are working to restore food chains by increasing the number of ungulates that form an important prey base for both carnivores and scavengers. Remains of dead deer are an important food source for a whole array of species including griffon, Egyptian and black vultures. Through their grazing the deer will also increase biodiversity at a local level by helping to create mosaic landscapes.

“Our goal is to restore the fallow deer throughout the Eastern Rhodopes,” shared Stefan Avramov, Rewilding officer. Future plans include the release of hundreds of animals in different areas and municipalties in the Bulgarian part of the Rhodope Mountains including Kardzhali, Momchilgrad, Kirkovo, Krumovgrad, Harmanli and Ivaylovgrad. The action is carried out in partnership with UHAB in Bulgaria and LRD Kardzhali.

Image: Stefan Avramov/Rewilding Rhodopes
Stefan Avramov

Recently collected monitoring data shows that these efforts are now paying off, with populations of both species increasing and dispersing across the landscape. In January 50 red deer were counted and we assume that their population already exceeds 130 animals scattered throughout the Eastern Rhodopes.

The deer are an interesting object for observation and photography by tourists and photographers and contribute to the establishment of the region as an interesting tourist destination.

The fallow deer was widespread in the past in the Bulgarian lands. It is depicted in several Thracian treasures such as Panagyurishte and Lukovit, and its bone remains have been found in almost all Bulgarian prehistoric settlements. It is believed to have been exterminated by man in the early Middle Ages. At the beginning of the last century its restoration in Bulgaria began.

Red deer have been widespread in the past in Bulgaria. He was on the verge of disappearing several times, but was restored. In the 90s of the last century its number was sharply reduced due to the boom of poaching, but in recent years the species is slowly recovering throughout Bulgaria.

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