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Action Plan for the Chamois in Bulgaria

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The Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria examines the questions on the conservation of the species on the national level. It is developed based on the Terms of Reference of SFA, coordinated with MoEW and includes the plans and programmes developed until now for the population of the Balkan chamois in the Bulgarian National Parks. The Balkan chamois is included in Annex 2 and Annex 4 of Directive 92/43/EEC, Annex 3 of Article 37 of the Biodiversity Act and the Red Book of the Republic of Bulgaria. The field work on the present Plan includes 11 censuses in the Rhodopes Mountains and one in Rila NP carried out in December 2005 and July 2006 using the route method with participation of independent observers. Additional observations on the species sex and age structure in the Rhodopes Mountains have also been carried out. Information on the species distribution outside the territories of the censuses has been gathered. In the process of preparation of the Plan six workshops and public hearings were carried out where the Plan targets and activities were discussed and complemented. The Balkan chamois subspecies is distributed in the mountain ranges on the Balkan Peninsula. In Bulgaria it is found in places with altitudes between 600 – 2 900 m. above sea level, in the rocky complexes of Rila, Pirin, Stara planina and the Rhodopes Mountains. At present the chamois is being reintroduced in Vitosha Mountain. The total number for the country is estimated between 1 700 and 2 300 individuals (2005). During the wars at the beginning of the 20th century the chamois range was reduced significantly and its numbers considerably declined, totalling around 1 000 for the whole country (Hristovich, 1939; Petrov, 1965). After effective measures for reducing illegal hunting and a reintroduction programme (State Game-Breeding Station Kormisosh in 1977), the number and the distribution of the species increased, reaching its maximum level at the beginning of the 90ies. Due to the political instability of the transition period and connected with it illegal shooting, the number of the chamois in Rila, Pirin and Stara Planina had declined to almost half and the species could only survive in places, remote and most difficult to reach. In the Rhodopes even though the species is nearly extinct from locations such as Kupena and the area above Hrabrino village, as a whole the population is stable and during the last 15 years it is even increasing its number and range. A number of anatomic, morphologic and physiologic adaptations are typical for the chamois, which make the species the best adapted mammal for living in the Alpine zone and on rocky terrains. Hence the influence of the climate (extremely low temperatures in the winter, wind etc.), predators, competition with wild ungulates are insignificant and are not limiting factors in the dynamics of vital chamois populations. Due to their specific adaptations the chamois have an advantage over predators in rocky habitats. In case of danger chamois go out on open rocks and wait for the predators reactions. This useful strategy against their natural enemies makes them very vulnerable and easy to shoot by men. Poaching is the most unfavourable limiting factor. It leads to a decrease in density and unbalance in the sex and age structure. Ultimately the result is extinction of chamois in many suitable locations. This as a whole creates additional fragmentations and inbreeding conditions. The adaptability towards specific habitats makes the species natural distribution mosaic; this is why they are especially sensible to additional fragmentation, destroying and/or habitats degradation (during construction of roads, tourist infrastructure, hydro technical equipment etc.). The level of the hybridization (genetic pollution) with the Alpine subspecies is not exactly known (SGBS Kormisosh). The feral dogs close to settlements, dumpsites and tourist centres could be a reason for chamois to avoid otherwise suitable habitats. The change of the legal status of the species after integration of the EU / European legislation and the prohibition of its use will lead to loss of interest towards chamois conservation on behalf of the hunting community. In the Rhodopes where the species is more vulnerable than in the Alpine zone a full hunting ban would have a strong unfavourable influence on the long-term species conservation. In Bulgaria there is over 2 000 km2 of habitat- suitable for chamois; which gives the possibility for a total population of at least 20 000 animals. The main target of the Plan is restoration and conservation of the Balkan chamois and its habitats in Bulgaria and targeting a number of at least 5 000 individuals by the year 2015. For the conservation of the species and its habitats the following different activities are foreseen in different fields: - legislation and policy - direct measures for habitats- and species conservation - monitoring and scientific studies - international cooperation and awareness rising among different target groups. In general the measures target the decrease of the illegal shooting, habitats conservation, motivating the local communities for better species management (quotas according to the IUCN Manual on sustainable use etc.), monitoring and awareness raising. The Plan also includes establishment of working group on the monitoring, implementation, planning and approval of the annual activities included in the Plan. The working group should include representatives from SFA, MoEW, Hunting Societies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) and NGOs. A matrix for monitoring and control for implementation of the project targets is created. Budget and time frame are generalized. Reasons for developing the Plan The present Plan has been developed in accordance to Agreement No 440/ 10 November 2005 between the State Forest Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry according Terms of Reference and coordinated with the Ministry of Environment and Waters (Annex 3).
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Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
2
ACTION PLAN
FOR THE BALKAN
CHAMOIS
IN BULGARIA
2007 - 2016
SOFIA 2006
STATE FORESTRY AGENCY
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
3
The present Action Plan for the Balkan Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanicа, Bolkay,
1925) has been developed by a team from the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation (BBF) in
accordance with the Terms of Reference prepared by the State Forestry Agency (SFA)
and coordinated with the Ministry of Environment and Water (Annex 3). The Action Plan
has been developed with the financial support of the SFA.
The draft versions of the Plan were discussed and complemented during workshops and
public hearings, which were organized, with participation of representatives of the
interested parties: scientific and educational institutions, control authorities (RIEW, RFB),
National and Nature Parks Directorates and non-governmental organizations.
The Plan has been developed in accordance with the requirements of Decree No 5 of
MoEW from 01 August 2003 (State Gazette, issue 73/ 19 August 2003) on the
development of Action Plans for plant and animal species.
The Action Plan has been developed by:
Kostadin Valchev, Krassimir Andonov, Georgi Popgeorgiev, Dimitar Plachijski, Stefan
Avramov
With the participation of:
Eng. Yulian Rusev, Eng. Velichko Velichkov, Eng. Emil Komitov, Senior Res. Prof. Dr Petar
V. Genov, Dr. Ivan Todev, Eng. Stoyan Sarijski, Yanko Yankov, Aleksandar Dunchev,
Eng. Aleksandar Obretenov, Eng. Georgi Bedrov, Eng. Aleksandar Klimentov, Ivailo
Angelov, Ollie Szyszka etc.
Editing and prepress:
Andriana Andreeva
Reproduction of this publication for educational and other non-commercial purposes is
authorised without permission of the copyright holders, provided the source is cited and
the copyright holder receives a copy of the reproduced material
Reproduction for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written permission of
the copyright holder.
Translation:
Boryana Ganeva
Recommended way of citation:
Valchev K., Kr. Andonov, G. Popgeorgiev, D. Plachijski, St. Avramov. 2006. Action Plan
for the Chamois in Bulgaria: 2007 – 2016. BBF – SFA, Sofia, 93 p.
© Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation
E-mai l : bbf@biodiversity.bg
http://bbf.biodiversity.bg
© Pictures on the cover
Kostadin Valchev
The English translation and English co-editing was made
possible with the help and financial support of
the Large Herbivore Foundation (LHF).
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
4
CONTENTS
SUMMARY ...................................................................................................................6
1.
TAXONOMY, DISTRIBUTION, BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OF THE SPECIES..............8
1.1.
Taxonomy and distribution of the species ..........................................................8
1.1.1.
General taxonomy and distribution ............................................................8
1.1.2.
Distribution of the Balkan chamois ............................................................9
1.1.3.
Distribution and number in Bulgaria......................................................... 10
1.2.
Biology and ecology of the species .................................................................. 12
1.2.1.
Feeding................................................................................................ 12
1.2.2.
Reproduction and development ............................................................... 13
1.2.3.
Sex and age structure of the populations of the Balkan chamois in
Bulgaria ............................................................................................... 13
1.2.4.
Activity and migrations .......................................................................... 18
1.2.5.
Intraspecies interactions ........................................................................ 19
1.2.6.
Interspecies interactions ........................................................................ 19
1.2.7.
Requirements of the conditions of the environment ................................... 20
2.
THREATS AND LIMITING FACTORS.................................................................... 22
2.1.
Limiting factors of natural character ................................................................ 22
2.1.1.
Climate factors and calamities - snow, avalanches..................................... 22
2.1.2.
Predators ............................................................................................. 23
2.1.3.
Competition with other ungulates............................................................ 23
2.1.4.
Infectious and parasites diseases ............................................................ 23
2.2.
Limiting factors of anthropogenic character ...................................................... 24
2.2.1.
Changing the habitats ............................................................................ 24
2.2.2.
Direct destroying of the species .............................................................. 25
2.2.3.
Changing the status and discontinuing the economic use of the species ....... 27
2.2.4.
Disturbance of the species ...................................................................... 28
2.2.5.
Diseases and parasites connected to livestock-breeding ............................. 28
2.2.6.
Competition with domestic livestock ........................................................ 29
2.2.7.
Fragmentation ...................................................................................... 29
2.2.8.
Hybridization with the introduced Alpine chamois ...................................... 30
3.
NATURE CONSERVATION STATUS, TAKEN MEASURES ON MANAGEMENT
AND CONSERVATION OF THE SPECIES AND THE INHABITED TERRITORIES
AND HABITATS .................................................................................................. 30
3.1.
Legal status ................................................................................................. 30
3.1.1.
National legislation ................................................................................ 30
3.1.2.
International legislation ......................................................................... 31
3.2.
Conservation and management of the species population in the country .............. 31
3.2.1.
Institutional responsibilities on the chamois conservation and
management in Bulgaria ........................................................................ 31
3.2.2.
Habitats Conservation ............................................................................ 33
3.3.
Regimes on chamois use ............................................................................... 33
3.4.
Reintroduction in Vitosha ............................................................................... 33
3.5.
The importance of the chamois as an eco-tourism object ................................... 33
3.6.
The role of the former economic use as a factor for the species conservation ....... 34
4.
TARGETS OF THE ACTION PLAN FOR CHAMOIS ................................................. 36
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
5
4.1.
Main target .................................................................................................. 36
4.2.
Secondary targets......................................................................................... 36
5.
ACTIVITIES NEEDED FOR THE CONSERVATION OF THE SPECIES AND ITS
HABITATS.......................................................................................................... 36
5.1.
Legislation activities ...................................................................................... 36
5.2.
Policies ........................................................................................................ 38
5.3.
Direct measures for habitats conservation........................................................ 39
5.4.
Direct measures for species conservation......................................................... 40
5.5.
Monitoring and scientific studies ..................................................................... 43
5.6.
International cooperation ............................................................................... 44
5.7.
Awareness raising among the different target groups ........................................ 45
6.
REGIMES AND NORMS FOR PROTECTION AND USE ........................................... 46
6.1.
Regime on the chamois hunting prohibition...................................................... 46
6.2.
Regime for catching live animals for reintroduction in other places ...................... 47
6.3.
Prophylactic shooting of wounded animals ....................................................... 47
6.4.
Selective shooting of old and degenerate animals ............................................. 47
6.5.
Means for shooting chamois ........................................................................... 48
7.
OBSERVATION AND CONTROL ON THE IMPLEMENTATION AND THE EFFECT
FROM THE ACCOMPLISHED ACTIVITIES (MONITORING AND EVALUATION
OF THE PLAN)....................................................................................................48
7.1.
Identifying the monitoring regions of the results and the products ...................... 48
7.2.
Identifying main questions and criteria/ variables ............................................. 48
7.3.
Determining indicators and norms /standards................................................... 48
7.4.
Evaluation criteria and indicators selection ....................................................... 48
7.5.
Frequency of the monitoring .......................................................................... 48
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
6
SUMMARY
The Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria examines the questions on the
conservation of the species on the national level. It is developed based on the Terms of
Reference of SFA, coordinated with MoEW and includes the plans and programmes
developed until now for the population of the Balkan chamois in the Bulgarian National
Parks.
The Balkan chamois is included in Annex 2 and Annex 4 of Directive 92/43/EEC,
Annex 3 of Article 37 of the Biodiversity Act and the Red Book of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The field work on the present Plan includes 11 censuses in the Rhodopes Mountains and
one in Rila NP carried out in December 2005 and July 2006 using the route method with
participation of independent observers. Additional observations on the species sex and
age structure in the Rhodopes Mountains have also been carried out. Information on the
species distribution outside the territories of the censuses has been gathered.
In the process of preparation of the Plan six workshops and public hearings were
carried out where the Plan targets and activities were discussed and complemented.
The Balkan chamois subspecies is distributed in the mountain ranges on the
Balkan Peninsula. In Bulgaria it is found in places with altitudes between 600 – 2 900 m.
above sea level, in the rocky complexes of Rila, Pirin, Stara planina and the Rhodopes
Mountains. At present the chamois is being reintroduced in Vitosha Mountain. The total
number for the country is estimated between 1 700 and 2 300 individuals (2005).
During the wars at the beginning of the 20
th
century the chamois range was
reduced significantly and its numbers considerably declined, totalling around 1 000 for
the whole country (Hristovich, 1939; Petrov, 1965). After effective measures for reducing
illegal hunting and a reintroduction programme (State Game-Breeding Station Kormisosh
in 1977), the number and the distribution of the species increased, reaching its
maximum level at the beginning of the 90ies. Due to the political instability of the
transition period and connected with it illegal shooting, the number of the chamois in
Rila, Pirin and Stara Planina had declined to almost half and the species could only
survive in places, remote and most difficult to reach. In the Rhodopes even though the
species is nearly extinct from locations such as Kupena and the area above Hrabrino
village, as a whole the population is stable and during the last 15 years it is even
increasing its number and range.
A number of anatomic, morphologic and physiologic adaptations are typical for the
chamois, which make the species the best adapted mammal for living in the Alpine zone
and on rocky terrains. Hence the influence of the climate (extremely low temperatures in
the winter, wind etc.), predators, competition with wild ungulates are insignificant and
are not limiting factors in the dynamics of vital chamois populations. Due to their specific
adaptations the chamois have an advantage over predators in rocky habitats. In case of
danger chamois go out on open rocks and wait for the predators reactions. This useful
strategy against their natural enemies makes them very vulnerable and easy to shoot by
men. Poaching is the most unfavourable limiting factor. It leads to a decrease in density
and unbalance in the sex and age structure. Ultimately the result is extinction of chamois
in many suitable locations. This as a whole creates additional fragmentations and
inbreeding conditions.
The adaptability towards specific habitats makes the species natural distribution
mosaic; this is why they are especially sensible to additional fragmentation, destroying
and/or habitats degradation (during construction of roads, tourist infrastructure, hydro
technical equipment etc.). The level of the hybridization (genetic pollution) with the
Alpine subspecies is not exactly known (SGBS Kormisosh). The feral dogs close to
settlements, dumpsites and tourist centres could be a reason for chamois to avoid
otherwise suitable habitats. The change of the legal status of the species after integration
of the EU / European legislation and the prohibition of its use will lead to loss of interest
towards chamois conservation on behalf of the hunting community. In the Rhodopes
where the species is more vulnerable than in the Alpine zone a full hunting ban would
have a strong unfavourable influence on the long-term species conservation.
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
7
In Bulgaria there is over 2 000 km
2
of habitat- suitable for chamois; which gives
the possibility for a total population of at least 20 000 animals.
The main target of the Plan is restoration and conservation of the Balkan chamois
and its habitats in Bulgaria and targeting a number of at least 5 000 individuals by the
year 2015.
For the conservation of the species and its habitats the following different
activities are foreseen in different fields:
- legislation and policy
- direct measures for habitats- and species conservation
- monitoring and scientific studies
- international cooperation and awareness rising among different target groups.
In general the measures target the decrease of the illegal shooting, habitats
conservation, motivating the local communities for better species management (quotas
according to the IUCN Manual on sustainable use etc.), monitoring and awareness
raising. The Plan also includes establishment of working group on the monitoring,
implementation, planning and approval of the annual activities included in the Plan. The
working group should include representatives from SFA, MoEW, Hunting Societies,
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) and NGOs.
A matrix for monitoring and control for implementation of the project targets is
created. Budget and time frame are generalized.
Reasons for developing the Plan
The present Plan has been developed in accordance to Agreement No 440/ 10
November 2005 between the State Forest Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and
Forestry according Terms of Reference and coordinated with the Ministry of Environment
and Waters (Annex 3).
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
8
1. TAXONOMY, DISTRIBUTION, BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OF THE SPECIES
1.1. Taxonomy and distribution of the species
1.1.1. General taxonomy and distribution
The chamois (Rupicapra sp.) origins from Pachygazella sp. which inhabited Central Asia
around 10 million years ago (Lovari et al., 1980). From there the Rupicapras moved west
reaching Europe. The first fossils of Rupicapra sp. appeared in Europe in the mid
Pleistocene, (Lovari et al., 1980).
Until the eighties of the 20
th
century, 10 chamois subspecies for the whole species range
were described, belonging to one species - Rupicapra rupicapra. More detailed study of
the chamois origin, structure and behaviour has lead to the recognition of two different
species southern chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) with three subspecies distributed in
Southwest Europe and northern chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) including seven
subspecies distributed in the rest of the species range.
R. pyrenaica pyrenaica (RPPy figure 1) Pyrenean chamois. It is found in the
Spanish and the French part of the Pyrenees Mountains. Its population is around
53 000 species, in the French part around 15 500 (Roucher, 1997).
R. pyrenaica parva (RPParva – figure 1) – Cantabrian chamois. It inhabits the high
parts of the Cantabrian Mountains with above 19 000 individuals (Alados, 1997).
R. pyrenaica ornata (RPO figure 1) Apennines (Abruzzo) chamois. It is found
only in Abruzzo National Park with around 650 individuals (Dupré E. et al, 2001).
R. rupicapra rupicapra (RRR – figure 1) – Alpine chamois. The most numerous and
most widely distributed subspecies. It is found in the Alps and the neighbouring
mountain ranges of Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia and
Slovenia. It is also introduced in New Zealand, Slovakia, and the former
Yugoslavia and in many other places.
R. rupicapra cartusiana (RRCart. figure 1) it is found in restricted territory of
around 350 km
2
in the Chartreuse limestone massif in the pre-Alps, France. Its
population is decreasing and in 1985 it is evaluated to the least of 150 individuals
(Roucher, 1997). After the development and the implementation of the Action
Plan for the subspecies its number has increased to above 770 individuals in 1997
(5 times increase with 16 % annual growth) (Roucher, 1999).
R. rupicapra tatrica (RRT – figure 1) – distributed in the high Tatra Mountains and
it is introduced in Low Tatra National Park. In 1993 its population is estimated to
600 -640 individuals (Hrabe, 1997), and in the end of the 90ies it has decreased
to 300 – 400.
R. rupicapra carpatica (RRCarpatica figure 1) the Carpathian chamois. It is
found in the Transylvanian Alps and in the Carpathian Mountains. In 1990 its
population is around 9 000 individuals (Weber, 1997).
R. rupicapra asiatica (RRA – figure 1) – the Asian (Anatolian) chamois, is found in
North-eastern and Eastern Anatolia and south of Trabzon. There are no reliable
determined numbers available (Kence and Tarhan, 1997).
R. rupicapra caucasica (RRCau – figure 1) – Caucasian chamois. Distributed in the
Caucasian Mountains along the river Pashada and in southeast, in around 900 km.
to the mountain Babadag in Azerbaijan. In 1990 the population is estimated to
around 15 000.
Balkan chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanicа, Bolkay, 1925) (RRB – figure 1)
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
9
Figure 1. Phylogeography of the species Rupicapra spp. Subspecies and the
species separation in years (according Perez et al., 2002)
As can be seen from Figure 1, the Balkan subspecies had separated from the Alpine (R. r.
rupicapra) after the end of the last glacial period around 10 000 years ago. There is no
certain method for distinguishing the Alpine from the Balkan subspecies using the external
features. The two subspecies are separated only by the differences in maxillary tooth row
and the horn characteristics.
1.1.2. Distribution of the Balkan chamois
The Balkan chamois is found in isolated habitats in the mountains of the Balkan Peninsula.
In Greece the chamois form six scattered and isolated population groups: in the Rhodopes
and the mountain ranges from Epirus to northwest Parnassos (figure 2), (Adamakopolous et
al., 1997). Its population in Greece is evaluated at between 300 and 500 individuals as the
separate populations consist of between 10 and 100 chamois (Adamakopolous et al., 1997).
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
10
Figure 2. Distribution of the Balkan chamois in Greece (Papaioannou, 2000)
In Albania the chamois are found in the north in the Albanian part of the Alps, in
the east in Dibra highlands, the Librazhd region and Puke, the Mirdite and Mat, in central
Albania in Barat and Skrapar and in the south in Kolonje and Permett. The total chamois
population in Albania comes up to around 1 000 individuals (Gjiknuri, 1997).
In former Yugoslavia the Balkan chamois is found in the mountain ranges of
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and FYROM. At the end of the
80ies of the 20
th
century its number is above 14 000 of which 11 800 were within their
natural populations. The chamois reintroductions and introductions in the former
Yugoslavia were relatively often seen and as a result at the beginning of the 90ies more
than 2 500 chamois were found in regions where chamois were not found before. But
after 1990 the conditions dramatically aggravated and there is not information on the
present chamois condition (Kryštufek, et al. 1997).
1.1.3. Distribution and number in Bulgaria
In Bulgaria the Balkan chamois is found on the steep slopes of rocky complexes in Rila,
Pirin, Stara Planina and the Rhodopes mountain ranges at altitudes of around 600 to 2
900 m. Information for the chamois in the Rhodopes is first given by Xenophon, who
writes that the Thracian people were hunting them (Petrov, 1965). Until the mid 19
th
century the Balkan chamois had wider range of distribution in Bulgaria, as it inhabited
almost all suitable habitats in Stara Planina and the Rila Rhodopian mountain range.
After the wars from the end of the 19
th
and the beginning of the 20
th
century people
came into the possession of long-range rifles. This leads to an increase in the success of
chamois hunting and considerable decrease of the species number. In many of its
ranges, the result was a complete extinction of the species. At this time there were no
hunting restrictions and no specific hunting season. With the Hunting Act of 1897 a
hunting season for the chamois was introduced from 1 August to 31 December, and in
1898 a 10 years ban of the hunting in Stara Planina was introduced as the chamois there
were fewer than 30 individuals (Petkov, 1898). With the adoption of the subsequent
hunting legislation acts the hunting season was shortened until it became one month
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
11
October, with the Hunting Act from 1948. Despite the shortening of the hunting season
and the hunting prohibition in many places the chamois number still remained
unsatisfactory. According to Hristovich (1939) there were around 1 000 chamois in
Bulgaria: Rila 600 700, the Rhodopes 150 200, Pirin 80 100 and in Stara
Planina around 100 (Petrov, 1965). After the Second World War the control on the illegal
hunting was strengthened and the populations slowly began to increase as chamois also
widened there distribution. According to annual censuses data (source SFA, figure 3) the
number of chamois started steadily to increase by 1965. The data from 1960, 1961,
1970 and 1971 was interpolated due to incomplete available data. The unnatural
fluctuations in the number between the years 1954 1957, 1959 1963 and 1969
1973 are due to two main reasons: first lack of censuses in many of the chamois
inhabited places and second lack of unified census methodology. Possibly the chamois
reached their highest number at the end of the 80ties and the beginning of the 90ties,
although according to the official information the peak was at the end of the 90ties. In
the 80ties in conditions of exceeded “maximum permissible stock number”, in many
places the theoretically calculated permissible stock or a little higher number of chamois
was reported. During this period for Stara Planina around 270 chamois were reported but
their number was a lot higher and in many places herds of 40-50 animals were seen
(Ganchev, 2001). The maximum permissible stock number is low in general – 6 chamois/
100 hectares for the best habitats. In the Alps the density reaches 15-20 animals/ 100
ha (Lovari, 1997).
In 1977 in Kormisosh hunting reserve introduction of chamois from the Alpine subspecies
was done and after mixing with the local population it reached up to 300 – 400
individuals in 2005.
Figure 3. Dynamics of the Balkan chamois number 1954 – 2004
(Source SFA)
0
250
500
750
1000
1250
1500
1750
2000
2250
2500
1954
1956
1958
1960
1962
1964
1966
1968
1970
1972
1974
1976
1978
1980
1982
1984
1986
1988
1990
1992
1994
1996
1998
2000
2002
2004
2006
години
бр.
The political and socio – economic changes at the beginning of the 90ties lead to political
instability, unsatisfactory control and upholding of legislation. Many well functioning
hunting reserves were being destroyed due to political reasons. As a result the chamois
decreased from above 270 individuals to around 100 in Stara Planina, from 400 to
around 200 in Pirin and from 650 to around 300 in Rila. At the end of the 90ties the
chamois density in certain ranges decreased so much that the poachers lost interest
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
12
towards it. This coincides with the establishment of the National Park Directorates,
approval of their Management Plans, strengthening the guarding control etc. Even though
the level of illegal hunting in the protected territories is still high, during the last 5 years
a slow increase of the chamois number in the National Parks is noticed.
Figure 4. Changing the percentage correlation between the separate
populations
According to the census carried out in the Rhodopes in the 90ties the chamois increased
its number and its range. E.g. taking new habitats (Mugla, Shiroka Laka, area around the
village of Fotinovo etc.). The reasons for that are as follows:
Low level of poaching within the State Game-Breeding Stations where the animals
settle themselves and inhabit suitable habitats outside the SGBS;
The introduced Alpine chamois in SGBS Kormisosh;
The fences along the Greek borders are not maintained and as a result the
individuals from an artificially separated population connect again, creating a
more vital subpopulation (Valchev, et al. 2005).
Due to the above mentioned reasons the population in the Rhodopes increased from 2-3
% in the 60ties of the 19
th
century to above 50% of the species population in Bulgaria in
2006 (figure 4).
1.2. Biology and ecology of the species
1.2.1. Feeding
The chamois show some selectivity towards its food. In the spring and the summer the
diet consists mainly of grass species (62 %) found in the Alpine pastures and in the
lighter forests. They use intensively the poor vegetation of reduced, rocky, steep
terrains. They also feed with grass species containing toxic alkaloids (white hellebore
(Veratrum lobelianum etc.). Coniferous such as dwarf pine (Pinus mugo), Norway spruce
(Picea abies) and silver fir (Abies alba) are found in its diet all year long with the total of
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
1965 1975 1985 1995
2006
Rhodopes
Pirin
Rila
з
Action Plan for the Balkan chamois in Bulgaria 2007 – 2016
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
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around 4 % (Knaus and Schröder, 1975). The chamois feed on dwarf pine in spite of its
unfavourable mechanical features, even in the periods with rich grass species vegetation.
The chamois density and concentration depends a lot on the food availability. The regions
containing their preferred food in the different seasons are also the places where the
herds stay the longest during the respective season.
1.2.2. Reproduction and development
The Balkan chamois mating period is usually in November as it is determined by
the day period (the decreasing day time). The introduced chamois in New Zealand mate
in April and give birth in November. If fertilization does not happen during the chamois
ovulation period, most often another ovulation follows, which for the chamois is a 3
weeks cycle. This is why there is a peak activity during the fertilization and intervals
during littering, because the period of the pregnancy strongly varies (Knaus and
Schröder, 1975).
Reaching sexual maturity depends mainly on the food, climate, density and social
conditions. For populations with high density, due to the social stress the female chamois
stay smaller in size (section 1.2.5). Positive correlation has also been proven between
the weight and the sexual maturity (Albon, et al, 1983).
The earliest age when the females can reach sexual maturity is in their second
year (over 1.5 years old) and next spring they can have young. The pregnant females in
their second year are more vulnerable to diseases at the end of the winter and the
spring, than those not pregnant at this age. It is found that for the Alpine countries the
fertilization of females at the age of 1.5 years is extremely rare, the percentage of
fertilized females at the age of 2.5 years is higher but in general it strongly varies. Even
in bad conditions during their third year, almost all females take part in the mating
period and after 24-26 weeks give birth. It is believed that the fertility of the females
does not change until they reach 12 years of age. Littering at the age of 18 was also
registered (Knaus and Schröder, 1975).
For the male chamois there is considerable difference between the sexual maturity
and the participation in the reproduction period; there are even cases where
spermatozoon are found in the testicles of one year old males. Increased participation in
the reproduction and the fertilization of females is noticed 1-2 years later and in normal
conditions it is strongly expressed after fourth years of age of the males. This also
depends on the social structure of the herd.
The increased presence of older goats leads to inactivity of the younger males and
to a shorter mating period. If the young males mate actively they loose weight and often
cannot strengthen up and live through the winter.
The reproductive rate of the mature females (older than two years) for
Switzerland and Austria is 64 – 72 % (Knaus and Schröder, 1975). When restoring
chamois in suitable habitats, the growth is higher than the average (above 90 % of the
mature females) and in conditions of cold winter and late snowfalls the growth could be
very low. The mechanism leading to lower growth is not yet clear (for example for red
deer there are cases of abortion and for other mammals there is embryo restoration in
the uterus walls). Other important condition for the growth is the survival of the
newborn. For chamois in misery (in enclosures and zoos) the mortality rate is high in the
period directly after birth due to weak kids, parasites etc.
1.2.3. Sex and age structure of the populations of the Balkan chamois in
Bulgaria
From the 631 chamois observed during the censuses in the Rhodopes (December 2005)
the sex and the age of 255 (41.06 %) was not defined. The rest of (366) chamois were
determined (Table 1). On the 11 and 12 July 2006 censuses using the methodology used
in December 2005 for determination the birth coefficient were organized. The
observations were done in 7 routes within SGBS Izvora and 5 routes within SGBS
Kormisosh. The high percentage of the not-determined animals is a disadvantage, but
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very often parts of the herds or single animals are far in the forests and/or they hide
away before a reliable determination of the age and the sex group is possible. Out of the
determined chamois the mature females dominate (35.25 %) as their percentage is
considerably higher than the one of the mature males (Table 1). Additional investigations
on the exact assessment of the sex and age structure are needed. The majority of the
mature females could be due to the following reasons:
This is the first census in the Rhodopes carried out using this methodology. It
is possible that there are mistakes in the assessment of the sex and the age.
It is believed that the herds outside their mating period are divided in male
and female, but very often in the big herds there are males determined as
females by the observers.
After the mating period the males often live in small groups or alone. Because
of this it is difficult to observe them in December. Due to the rich oak fruit-
bearing the males probably spend more time in the forest, feeding with acorns
so that they restore quickly their weight after the end of the mating period.
As in most cases the males are in small groups or alone, most probably the
observers cannot notice them in forests or very broken terrains. Often 1-2
chamois are noticed and during long observations and/or animals moving in a
herd of above 10 chamois could be seen i.e. single animals are more likely to
be missed.
The group of young females includes individuals up to three years of age and
the one of young males up to six years i.e. as early as this age there is
superiority of the females which cannot be explained with the trophy hunting.
The sex ratio of the observed undetermined animals (41 % of all chamois
observed – Table 1) is not clear. Possibly there the males have superiority.
The females live longer than the males due to the higher mortality in male.
Twenty year old females are seen (24) while males older than 20 years are not
found (Knaus, 1975).
Table 1. Sex and age structure of the determined in the Rhodopes chamois
(December 2005)
Total
number of
the
observed
animals
Young
females
Mature
females
Young
males
(3-6 г.)
Mature
males
Old
males Kids Yearli
ngs
Not-
determin
ed
Number
631 28 129 28 66 0 88 27 255
% of the
chamois with
assessed sex
and age
7.65 35.25 7.65 18.03 0.00 24.04 7.38
% of all
observed
chamois
4.51 20.77 4.51 20 0.00 14.17 4.35 41.06
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Figure 5. Sex and age structure of the determined chamois in the Rhodopes
(December 2005)
Figure 6. Age structure of all chamois observed in the Rhodopes
0,00
5,00
10,00
15,00
20,00
25,00
30,00
35,00
40,00
fem
ale
male
undetermined
Female
35%
Adult males
5%
Kids
34%
One
year old
9%
Undetermined
17%
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Table 2. National Parks Census
Central Balkan NP
Chamois
Year / % sex
and age
distribution male female
newborn
Not-
determined
Total
1999 8 18 2 2 30
% 26.67% 60.00%
6.67% 6.67% 100.00%
2000 9 29 8 11 57
% 15.79% 50.88%
14.04% 19.30% 100.00%
2001 15 41 9 23 88
% 17.05% 46.59%
10.23% 26.14% 100.00%
2002 48 41 6 70 165
% 29.09% 24.85%
3.64% 42.42% 100.00%
2003 32 85 8 33 158
% 20.25% 53.80%
5.06% 20.89% 100.00%
2004 49 110 57 216
% 22.69% 50.93%
26.39% 0.00% 100.00%
2005 41 112 51 7 211
% 19.43% 53.08%
24.17% 3.32% 100.00%
Rila NP
Chamois Year / % sex
and age
distribution male female
newborn
Not-
determined
Total
2002 34 110 56 29 229
% 14.85% 48.03%
24.45% 12.66% 100.00%
2003 115 221 66 0 402
% 28.61% 54.98%
16.42% 0.00% 100.00%
2004 107 225 64 396
% 27.02% 56.82%
16.16% 0.00% 100.00%
2005 60 187 49 82 378
% 15.87% 49.47%
12.96% 21.69% 100.00%
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Pirin NP
Chamois
Year / % sex
and age
distribution male female
newborn
Not-
determined
Total
2000 67 155 222
% 30.00% 70.00%
0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
2001 83 151 234
% 35.47% 64.53%
0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
2002 85 192 277
% 30.68% 69.32%
0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
2003 86 187 273
% 31.50% 68.50%
0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
2004 76 189 265
% 28.68% 71.32%
0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
2005 52 152 72 276
% 18.88% 55.51%
26.00% 0.00% 100.00%
As can be seen from Table 2, the males within the three national parks account
for around 30 % of the population. Exception is for Pirin NP where until 2004 males are
around or a bit over 30 %. After that a sudden drop in the total number is noticed and
the percentages of male individuals drop.
The natural sex ratio is 1:1. The disturbed sex structure could be due to selective
illegal shooting or inaccurate sex determination during censuses. The percentage
participation of the males is under 20% where the column “Not-determined” is filled. Not
filling this column, means that either all animals were determined, which in big number
of observers is practically impossible, or the forms were filled without the observers
being certain in the accuracy of the assessment (more likely). In the case when there are
no animals reported in the column “not-determined” the percentage of the males is
higher (up to 31 %). Here too, as in the Rhodopes, it is likely that in the bigger herds
with kids the mature animals are assessed only as females and the groups without
newborn or single individuals – as male.
The census using the methodology and the form developed by the project team
was implemented on 14 July 2006 (Annex 1).
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Figure 7. Age structure of all chamois observed in Rila NP – 14 July 2006
1.2.4. Activity and migrations
From July to December the chamois spend more time in the Alpine zone than in
the forests. From January till June most of the herds stay under the upper border of the
forest (Lovari and Cosentino, 1986). The herds’ size is changing during the year as the
tendencies are for smaller herds in the winter. Also the number of animals is increasing
during the warmer months. The herds are largest in June – November, with the
maximum in August – September. For the Apennine chamois the herds consisting of only
male or female are under 5 % as the male usually consists of 2-3 individuals and the
female are bigger in number. The male aged up to 5 years rarely form “harems” during
the mating period and in that time they move in “bachelor” groups or on their own
(Lovari and Cosentino, 1986).
The daily activity of the chamois could be summarized easier in the summer. In
the morning hours most animals graze. After that a pause follows excluding small
percentage of grazing animals, the rest lay down often in the shadow and ruminates.
Between the 8 and 16 hours there are 3 or 4 phases of intensive feeding, as the intensity
is the highest in the morning and during the late afternoon hours. The difference is clear
because the animals look for the sun in the winter and in the summer they hide away
from the heat. In foggy and cloudy weather they graze longer and in the night unlike the
deer (Cervidae) they are not active. There is information for grazing in full moon but
such is extremely rare (Knaus and Schröder, 1975).
In the winter chamois are found in places where the snow is blown away by wind
or avalanches; but usually they are found in such places in quiet days (with light wind).
The places chosen by the chamois in quiet and windy days are very different. This
also goes for the forest areas. Obviously to prevent energy loss from cool down by wind,
windy places with more accessible food are not visited. This leads to chamois
concentration in quiet places but with worse food base. Except for the food, main factor
for choosing the habitat is the temperature regime. In the winter they prefer warm and
sunny places and in the summer – windy and shadowy ones.
The seasonal vertical movements in the Alps are bigger than the horizontal.
In heavier winters wider movements are registered.
Adult males
11,4%
Adult females
39,2%
Undetermined
15,3%
One year old
12,5%
Kids
21,6%
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1.2.5. Intraspecies interactions
The chamois are gregarious species. The chamois herd change in structure and
size not just during the different seasons but also during the day.
The older female in the herd have clearly expressed hierarchy and higher ranks
(dominating) while the young (1-3 years old) are subordinates. During feeding the older
females can attack the younger especially the ones not fast enough to run away when
the dominating approach. This creates the so called “social stress” within the herds. It is
reported that the younger female eat less food than the older female because of the fact
that they raise their heads more often and do smaller number of biting per minute, even
in the alpine pastures where predator attacks are extremely rare (Lovari, S., G. Rosto,
1985). In populations with higher density and larger in size, in herds the level of social
stress is higher. Because of this the young female from this populations are more apt to
migrations compared to the populations having lower density (Lovari and Rosto, 1985).
In addition the average weight of female yearling in populations with lower density is a
lot higher than the weight of the same in denser populations (Bauer, 1985).
1.2.6. Interspecies interactions
1.2.6.1. Predators influence
The chamois are the best adapted animals to steep and rocky terrains among all
ungulate mammals. Their herd way of living and the skilful use of the terrain help them
to successfully protect from predators. In Bulgaria the native chamois predators are grey
wolf, bear, wild cat, fox, golden eagle and feral dogs.
Grey wolf (Canis lupus) according to Michailov (1999), the losses
caused by wolves in Rila NP do not exceed 5-7 % even where the wolf
density is reasonably high. Victims are most often kids and yearlings but
this is a natural process and the losses are insignificant.
Feral dogs there are no studies on the influence of feral dogs. They are
especially dangerous in areas close to settlements, dumpsites, chalets etc.
where they concentrate. The savage packs do organized hunting similar to
wolves. Such a case was observed on 14 November 2005 in Gerzovitsa
locality, not far from Smolyan and the town dumpsite. After checking the
terrain, the dogs separated – one of them chased the chamois barking and
the rest were waiting in ambush. When a female with a kid approached the
ambush two of the dogs attacked without barking as they shortened the
distance to the kid to under 10 m. Unlike the wolves the dogs find
additional food within the settlements. So the feral dogs can afford regular
chasing of chamois even with no success. The regular chasing by dogs
could lead to insufficient food intake for the chamois as well as fatigue of
the animals which make them more vulnerable towards diseases and to
attacks by other predators. It could also lead to permanent abandonment
of suitable habitats.
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). The rare observations of newborn
successfully hunted by golden eagle, create the impression with hunters for
success. But such cases most likely are rare and it can not be said that
they influence the chamois population. The kid often looks for protection
between the legs of its mother and the steep rocky terrains and cracks
decrease the chance for success for the eagle. The eagle also feeds with
carrion, which is why it is possible some of the food lefts found in the nests
are from dead chamois (K. Andonov – found skull of a kid in a golden eagle
nest in Rila NP, unpublished data).
The death caused by bear, fox and wild cat is extremely rare and it is
not important for the population growth (Knaus and Schröder, 1975).
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1.2.6.2. Rival herbivorous species
In the National Parks the chamois do not have rivals among the rest of the wild
ungulate species, as their habitats include mainly the alpine and the sub-alpine part of
the mountains where the density of the rest of the ungulates is low and the competition
is insignificant, so it is not an important factor. Mainly in the winter season chamois enter
the forest ecosystems where competition with roe deer, wild boar and red deer is
possible.
The studied rumens of chamois, red deer and roe deer show that the red deer has
the widest food niche followed by the chamois. The roe deer is a lot more selective and
its food niche is a lot narrower. The diets of roe deer and chamois overlap to a great
extend, while the diet of the roe deer differ from this of the two species in the summer.
The plant species used for food by the red deer and the chamois in the autumn and in
the winter overlap to a great extends (Schröder and Schröder, 1984). In the Rhodopes,
competition between red deer and chamois is possible in areas close to the rocky
massifs. The intensely year around feeding of wild boar within the chamois habitats,
leads to high concentration of the species and they often disturb the chamois. In the
other parts of the country the density of the wild ungulate is a lot lower than the optimal
and rival interactions do not occur.
1.2.7. Requirements of the conditions of the environment
1.2.7.1. Average annual and monthly temperatures and
precipitations in the typical chamois habitats
The mountains of the Rila – Rhodopians massive are situated on the border between the
moderate continental and the transitional Mediterranean climate. The climate is
influenced by elements of the relief the vertical segmentation, exposure, altitude. The
diverse vertical segmentation (forms and orientation of the valleys, the barriers between
them) influences the circulation of the air currents and through them the temperatures,
the winds and the precipitations.
Table 3. Average annual temperatures (Rila)
Station, altitude
Average
temperature
January, °C
Average
temperature
July, °C
Annual
temperature
amplitude,
°C
Average
annual
temperature,
°C
Musala Peak 2925 м -10.90 5.10 17.10 -3.00
Musala chalet 2390 м -7.30 8.60 16.60 0.50
Sitnyakovo 1740 м -4.40 13.10 17.50 4.30
Borovets 1340 м -4.40 15.30 19.70 5.40
For characterising the Rhodopes climate region data from the meteorological station (MS)
at Persenk chalet (1750 m), MS at Boikovo village (1100 m) and MS Manastir village is
used.
In Figure 8 the differences of the temperature regime in the different zones can be seen.
In the low regions the average annual temperature is 8.4 ºС while in the high regions it
is 4.7 ºС.
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Figure 8. Dynamics of the average monthly temperatures in ºС
1.2.7.2. Dynamics of the snowfalls (in days for the different months)
and duration of the snow cover detention
Long lasting formation of snow cover in the low zones of Rila NP is seen after 10-15
December for the northern slopes and 20-30 December for the southern ones. On
average the snow cover in the Park lasts for 200-220 days. The average monthly
maximum snow cover thickness for the low zone is in February and it reaches 20-30 cm
and for the high zone (above 2000 m) in March, reaches 70-80 cm. In the highest
parts of the Park the maximum snow cover thickness reaches 200-240 cm and most
often is seen at the end of March. The first long-lasting snow cover at around 2400 m is
formed in the beginning of October. The average duration of the period with long-lasting
snow cover is 70-80 days for altitude of 1 200 1 300 m and it reaches up to 180-200
days for altitude of above 2 000 m. For altitude of above 1 200 m long-lasting snow
cover is formed each winter. The snows melting in the high parts starts in the mid April
and it can end as late as June. The drifted snow on the bottoms of the circuses melts at
the end of July and ice blocks in the lakes can be seen even in August.
In the Rhodopes in average the date of the first snow cover is 30 November and the
date for snow cover melting is 1 April. The average duration of the long-lasting snow
cover is 118 days. The average snow cover height is from 5 to 0 cm with its maximum in
January when the maximum snow cover height reaches 80 cm.
The annual amount of precipitations increases with the increase of altitude to 2300-
2400 m and above this border the precipitations show tendencies of decrease. For the
high parts the average annual precipitation amount is within the boundaries of 1051-
1200 mm (within the chamois habitats), while for the lower parts it is 700-800 mm. The
precipitations distribution during the year is uneven. In the winter the precipitations on
the northern slopes of the Rila Rhodopian massif are less than in the southern slopes
where they reach up to 22-25 % of the annual norm.
Table 4. Annual precipitations in Rila NP
Station Altitude, м Precipitations, mm
Borovets 1340 929
Sitnyakovo 1500 977
Musala Peak 2925 1193
-10
-5
0
5
10
15
20
Бойково -1,6 -0,5
1,2 7,2 12,2 15,5 17,9 18 14,3 9,4 5,5 1,2
х
.
Пресенк
-4,2 -3,1
-1,5 3,1 7,9 11
13,2 13,4 9,9 6,1 2,8 1,7
I
II
III IV
V
VI VII
VIII
IX
X
XI
XII
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Figure 9. Average annual amounts of the precipitations in the Rhodopes, in
mm
In Stara planina the precipitations increase with the higher altitude and usually they
reach 1 200 mm/year as they are heavier in the northern slopes. The highest average
annual amount of the precipitations for the country is reported within the Park regions –
1360 mm/year (Ambaritsa chalet). The southern slopes are left in a precipitation shadow
and the average amount there is around 550 mm/year. The maximum precipitations are
in July and the minimum is in February. The winter precipitations consist mainly of snow.
The snow cover lasts for around 6 months. Avalanches are often seen and they occur
mainly in the diapason between 1 500 and 2 200 m, most in the treeless zone.
1.2.7.3. Other key abiotic and biotic conditions of the preferred
habitats
The main prerequisite for the chamois habitats is the availability of steep slopes in the
alpine zone and in the zone below the upper border of the forest. The species has a wide
food spectrum which together with other anatomic and physiologic adaptations, allow
them to survive in different habitat conditions. Balkan chamois in Bulgaria are seen from
around 600 m (Krichim FU) to 2 900 m. Chamois were introduced around Kaliakra Cape
(D. Nankinov, I. Hristov, verbal reports). The Cantabrian chamois inhabits complexes
close to sea level in Northern Spain.
2. THREATS AND LIMITING FACTORS
2.1. Limiting factors of natural character
2.1.1. Climate factors and calamities - snow, avalanches
Chamois are adapted to stand severe cold winter condition in the high mountain parts
but sometimes they become victim of harsh colds, deep snow, avalanches and snow
slides. For the adults the mortality in the winter is an average of around 10 %. Most of
the losses are among the newborn during their first winter (it is possible that losses
reach 30 – 40 %).
The most common reasons for the winter mortality are low quality food and bad
accessibility to food under the snow cover when the chamois cannot satisfy their energy
needs. When loosing weight animals are more vulnerable towards influences of parasites
and diseases. In higher density the percentage of the winter losses is higher.
The number of days with snow cover does not have such an influence on the winter
losses as the thickness of the snow cover does. Considering the age mainly newborn and
yearlings die, followed by male. Females have lesser losses.
0
50
100
150
.
Persenk
63
50
54
65
130
111
81
58
54 68
71
63
.
Manastir
110 85
75
82
138
123
107
66
63 89
107
114
I II
III
IV V VI
VII
VIII IX
X
XI
XII
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One of the reasons for the higher losses of male is the loss of weight during the mating
period (Knaus and Schröder, 1975).
Importance: insignificant / local
2.1.2. Predators
2.1.2.1. Natural predators
The natural chamois predators in Bulgaria are grey wolf, bear, wild cat, red fox and
golden eagle. The losses from grey wolves in Rila do not exceed 5-7 % even where the
wolf density is relatively high. Victims are mainly kids and one year olds and in this
natural process the losses are insignificant. The successful hunting of other predators is
rather accidental and rare. The influence of all predators is insignificant and it does not
play an important or unfavourable role on the populations (section 1.2.6.1).
Importance: insignificant / local
2.1.2.2. Dogs
Significantly more unfavourable could be the influence of the feral dogs that find food in
areas close to settlements, dumpsites, chalets etc. They can regularly and for a long time
disturb (chase) chamois even with no success. As a result many habitats close to
settlements, chalets and dumpsites are left uninhabited or have a low density (section
1.2.6.1).
High number of shepherd dogs especially without fetter rods (equipment stopping
them from running too fast), do often disturb and hunt successfully chamois kids. At
places with intensive grazing this could lead to extinction of suitable habitats.
Importance: significant / everywhere
2.1.3. Competition with other ungulates
The ungulates found naturally in the chamois habitats are roe deer and red deer. The roe
deer is selective species and it has another food niche (section 1.2.6.2). To a great
extend the red deer diet overlaps with the chamois but both red deer and roe deer have
lower densities in the chamois habitats. Competition with red deer could be possible only
where the density of the two species is high, but there are no data for a strong negative
influence.
In intensive feeding and concentration of wild boar within the chamois habitats,
the wild boar regularly disturbs the chamois.
Importance: insignificant / local
2.1.4. Infectious and parasites diseases
In Western Europe infections of conjunctivitis among the chamois are often found.
Despite the high frequency of its distribution the populations restore successfully after
the outbreak. All prophylactic and preventive methods tried showed to be not useful. The
disease appeared comparatively soon and the epidemics are also typical for small
isolated populations. The respiratory system epidemics (complex pneumonia) are
relatively common; they are also important pathogenic factor for describing the
populations’ dynamics.
Studies on the chamois diseases in Bulgaria and the parasitozes in particular have
not been made or are poor (Tyufekchiev, 1978).
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According to Dr. Ivan Todev (unpublished data) in National Research Station of
Wildlife Management, Biology and Pathology faecal samples were examined and partly
helminthological autopsy of organs of single shot animals were done.
For the period 1998 2006 samples of 43 chamois and organs – liver, lungs and
oesophagus of 21 animals were examined.
Table 5. Reported invasion in the chamois on the base of studied samples
for the period 1998 – 2006
Parasites invasion
Number of
the
examined
animals
Number of
the invaded
Extensity of the
invasion, %
Gastric-intestinal strongilate 43 26 60.47
Nematodirus sp. 43 7 16.28
Protostrongylidae 43 24 55.81
Dictyocaulus sp. 43 1 2.33
Gongylonema pulchrum 43 9 20.93
Trichuris sp. 43 1 2.33
Fasciola hepatica 43 1 2.33
Eimeria sp. 43 5 11.63
From Table 5 can be seen that the gastrointestinal strongilates have the highest
percentage. The cultivation of trichstrongylid larvae proves the availability of
representatives of the genus Haemonchus, Chabertia, Ostertagia, Nematodirus. The lung
strongilates are presented by nematodes from Protostrongylidae (55.71 %) from the
Neostrongylus, Muellerius, Varestrongylus and Dictyocaulidae (2.33 %) - Dictyocaulus.
The nematode eggs of Trichuris sp. and Fasciola hepatica are found only in single
samples.
In the parasites autopsy of internal organs, invasion of Gongylonema pulchrum was
found in five chamois oesophaguses as the intensity of the invasion is from 1 to 10
specimens. In the liver of the two chamois echinococcosis larva form (Echinoccocus
granulosus larvae) and one case of Dicrocoelium dendriticum were found.
Parasitism is a widely distributed biological phenomena in nature. The game health
condition for chamois, is influenced mainly by the intensity of the invasion (number of
parasites in one animal) which hasn’t been examined in the present study. The high
intensity plays a negative influence mainly in the young and in females that have
recently littered.
Importance: medium / everywhere
2.2. Limiting factors of anthropogenic character
2.2.1. Changing the habitats
2.2.1.1. Construction of ski tracks and equipments
The construction of ski tracks, including forest cutting and their maintenance, as well as
the construction of the servicing equipments (ski lifts) leads to habitats degradation for
chamois. These activities push the herds to regions unsuitable for them and lead to
fragmentation and isolation of the separate habitats, destroying the chamois food base,
changing the landscape and loss of places for shelter and hiding. The ski tracks used in
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winter and the access roads give for the rest of the year a convenient access for
poachers to the chamois habitats.
The ski tracks and equipments construction in the region of Stara Planina caused
the degradation of many of the typical chamois habitats. In order to determine to what
extend the chamois population is affected, the trends in the distribution and the number
of the species before and after the constructions should be followed. Despite the fact that
the territory of Rila NP is not part of the project, the realization of “Super Borovets”
Project will add to the degradation of the chamois winter habitats. The implementation of
“Panichishte Kabul Sedemte ezera” Project will have similar effect, as well as the
development of the Semkovo resort as a ski centre in Rila. This will lead to the complete
degradation of parts of the chamois habitats, isolating the regions and making it
impossible to increase the number and distribution of the already small population.
Future plans for ski centres also endanger the Stara Planina population.
Importance: significant / potential
2.2.1.2. Changing the grass composition and the aspect of the
grassland communities
The succession changes of the grass composition are a proven fact that hasn’t been
studied enough. In the past numerous herds of the grazing wild and domestic animals
were determining the development of specific plant species and vegetation communities.
Nowadays the number of the grazing animals is very low compared to the past which
leads to increased succession and overgrowing of the pastures.
Importance: significant / potential
2.2.2. Direct destroying of the species
2.2.2.1. Poaching
Chamois adapts excellently towards survival from predators by climbing on very steep
and rocky slopes. Very often chamois allow the predator (including the people) to come
close because they feel safe on the rocky complexes. These adaptations however are not
effective for protection from long range rifles. In open rocky places they can be seen
from far away and it is relatively easy to stalk them. Because of this, even just one
poacher familiar with the terrain and the animals’ habits can easily kill a high number of
the chamois in the region, while the rest will leave the area due to regular disturbance.
Despite the hunting prohibitions within the National Parks the poaching still exists.
According to Michailov (1999) poaching happens all year long in almost all chamois
habitats in Rila NP, even on the territories of the four reserves where the species is
permanently or temporarily found. Chamois are illegally chased and shot by legal hunters
as well as by people working on the Park’s territory using legal or illegal weapons. The
poaching not only does not allow increase in number but it also aggravates the
population structure, disturbs the herds and chases the chamois away from their
wintering and reproduction places. Disturbing are also the reported cases of hunting done
by the chalet hosts and staff from the spheres of tourism, sport and guarding, employees
of Beli Iskar Dam, Treshtenik, Panichishte, Borovets, Belmeken Sport base etc., using
even machine rifles. The studies show that the reported losses and decrease in number
are the result of illegal hunting. This was established during terrain observations and by
the gathered questionnaires data in the period 1997 – 1998. In September, October and
the beginning of November when 30 person days of observations in the chamois habitats
in the alpine zone were carried out, 20 separate shootings using rifle were reported
(heard). If we assume that every second shooting was accurate this means that over 10
chamois were killed or wounded in a rather small area.
In the last years the work of the National Park staff, the increased guarding
measures, the imposed sanctions for the violators caught and the lower success of the
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poachers due to the lower chamois density in the accessible places, have decreased the
poaching level compared to the period 1989 – 1998.
The political instability in the country, the lack of interest or the inability to
manage the species have lead to increase of illegal hunting and regular disturbance. As a
result in many habitats the chamois density has decreased and some areas are left
uninhabited even within the protected areas. This leads to increase of fragmentation of
populations, higher level of inbreeding and thus to lower vitality of individuals and
populations and more vulnerable to diseases, epidemics, natural disasters, predators etc.
The reasons for poaching are the meat, trophies, illegal hunting tourism etc.
Because of these reasons the illegal hunters will be divided in the following groups:
2.2.2.2. Regular hunters during regular hunting on other species
Within the given hunting regions where chamois are found and in regions bordering
SGBS, chamois are often illegally shot during hunting for other game species (wild boar
or predators). For example, in Izvora SGBS, close to the boundary managed by the local
hunting association, five of the legally hunted chamois pellets from smooth barrel rifle
were found (on the territory of Izvora SGBS hunting chamois with smooth barrel gun is
not allowed). Similar are the problems of Chepino SGBS and other SGBS. In Smolyan FU
on 26 November 2005 during drive hunt of wild boar a male chamois was illegally shot.
In unofficial conversations in the Rhodopes region and around the NP, most hunters
confirm that during the regular hunting of other species, chamois are also illegally
hunted.
Importance: significant / everywhere
2.2.2.3. Local people
The local people know best the habits of the animals, the region and the guarding and
control system. There are cases of chamois poaching by regular hunters as well as by
local people who are not hunters. The latter hunt using illegal weapons and/or snares.
There is a case of annual shooting of around 30 chamois in Rila NP by two local
people confirmed by independent source from Kostenets village. There are cases of
illegal hunting on chamois using dogs – beagles in the region of the Central Rila slope in
Grohod locality – Strazhnik peak on the border of Borovets FU and Yakoruda FU
(confirmed by eng. Dzhambazki from Beglika FU). Undoubtedly illegal hunting is also
done by legal hunters (Mihailov, 1999).
Importance: significant / everywhere
2.2.2.4. Administration staff and chalet hosts
The data from the questionnaires filled in by the foresters and the chalet hosts (who
specially asked for anonymity) confirm the assumptions for poaching done by the guards
of Belmeken Dam. Another category of illegal hunters (most often using illegal weapons)
are the chalet hosts and the administration staff – Sport base Belmeken, holiday homes
etc. (Mihailov, 1999). The host of Belmeken chalet has even made special food offers,
including chamois specialties. There is similar information for other national parks.
Poaching is the main reason for the considerable decrease of numbers and human
induced changes in the chamois sex and age structure within the national parks during
the last 15 years (Mihailov, 1999).
The administration staff working close to the chamois habitats can comparatively easy
and regularly also be part in poaching.
Importance: significant / everywhere
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2.2.2.5. Authorities and "businessmen" from powerful groups
Many of the cases when state authorities staff (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of
Defence etc.) and/or representatives of the “shady” business, hunt illegally on chamois
during hunting on other game species. This also occurs during group hunting or hunting
with guides outside the hunting season and within protected territories. Except the direct
illegal killing of chamois and other rare game species (bear, capercaillie etc.), this and
similar behaviour de-motivates the local people to manage the game within the given
hunting regions according to the legislation base, the forestry management projects and
plans. This leads to increase of poaching from the local people and makes it even more
difficult to solve the poaching problem. In small settlements where people know each
other as relatives and/or friends it is almost impossible to give a penal decree for illegal
hunting for a local resident, given that authority staff or an influential businessman can
do as they like, without any penalty. This encourages more people to hunt illegally and
de-motivates the staff of SFA and MOEW to follow their obligations.
Importance: significant / everywhere
2.2.2.6. Illegal hunting tourism
Illegal hunting tourism is most often organized in the National Parks. In most cases the
guides are local people who take friends and/or state authorities’ staff and influential
businessmen without charging them money but there is also information for organizing
hunting for payments. According to the local people from the surrounding of Rila NP,
chamois hunting in the park could be organized for around 300 BGL for a chamois and
this is only if the hunting is successful. Illegal hunting in Rila NP was advertised in 2003
on an internet home page of a safari club (in English) offering dumping prices.
Not rare are the cases of organized inroads of poachers even from Sofia staff of
MIA and MoD accompanied by local guides according to the questionnaires filed by
hunters from Kostenets, Raduil and Govedartsi villages (also asked for anonymity).
Obviously the main factor that has lead to the decrease of chamois number and the
destroying of the population structure in Rila NP as well as in the rest of the NP’s was the
organized (offered by local guides) illegal hunting during the period 1989 – 1998
(Mihailov, 1999).
Importance: significant / everywhere
2.2.2.7. Trophy hunting
It is a popular practice in public places (restaurants, taverns etc.) to exhibit trophies of
game and protected species. This way a niche on the market for chamois trophies and
hides is created. This is an additional motivation for the local hunters who know the
chamois habitats well and their typical characteristics. As a result this could lead to
complete species extinction within some habitats.
Importance: significant / local
2.2.3. Changing the status and discontinuing the economic use of the
species
According to the changes in the Biodiversity Act (SG, issue 88 from 4 August 2005) the
chamois hunting will be prohibited from the official EU accession date. Full prohibition of
the chamois hunting would lead to loss of interest towards the species by the structures
of HAA and SFA, increasing the illegal hunting and habitats degradation as well as to
lacking motivation for future reintroductions in suitable habitats. In the National Parks
the chamois number halved until the end of the 90ties in comparison to the end of the
80ties of the 20
th
century. In the Rhodopes where the species is more vulnerable, the
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population is stable and during the same period increase in number and range is noticed
(Figure 5). One of the main reasons for this increase is the better control and as a result
– the decrease of poaching (section 1.1.3).
Despite the full prohibition of chamois hunting in Greece and many uninhabited
suitable habitats, the species has not increased their number and range in the last
twenty years. There is no reason to believe that in Bulgaria it would happen differently.
On the contrary, this would lead to decrease in chamois number and density within the
SGBS and around them and would have many negative consequences on the long-term
survival of the subspecies outside the protected territories.
There are many examples where managed and sensible harvesting has a positive
influence on the populations. One of the rarest chamois subspecies (Rupicapra rupicapra
cartusiana), distributed in the limestone massive Chartreuse, France in 1985 reached its
minimum size of 157 individuals with range of around 6 000 ha (Roucher, 1999). After
involving the local hunters, popularization of the problem among them and signing an
agreement for managing the whole population on the territories of 22 hunting societies,
measures for restoration of the species were introduced. The hunting was stopped until
1990 (till reaching the minimal permissible stock). Harvesting started again in 1990 at a
2 % rate increasing to 4% in 1997. The result is an increase in the population to ≥ 770 in
1997 and also the range has increased to 28 000 ha (Roucher, 1999).
Importance: significant / everywhere
2.2.4. Disturbance of the species
Some human activities have negative influence without directly destroying chamois
habitats. The regular disturbance pushes the species out from many suitable habitats.
Such are the tourist over-activity, construction of new roads, cutting the forests etc.,
especially if the region has hunting during the whole year.
According to Knaus and Schröder (1975), chamois, if they are not hunted get used
to noisy places and feel safe there. A herd of 9 11 chamois was observed during the
census at no more than 200 meters above the industrial zone of the town of Devin.
The popular practice of extreme skiing could have very unfavourable consequences.
The running of the animal in conditions of thick snow, requiring a lot of strength during a
time with negative energy balance, has a high impact and could cause death. Many skiers
do not know about these consequences.
The intensive tourist flow in some of the chamois habitats and the presence of
herbs and mushrooms collectors are other factors indirectly influencing the population
status. The constant disturbance during the wintering, the reproduction and even during
the mating period, stresses the chamois. Their day as well as their seasonal rhythm of
activity is disturbed (feeding, resting, migrating). In spite of available good habitats
conditions food/ protection , if these are unreachable, chamois are forced to spend
more time in regions with lesser conditions.
Importance: medium / potential
2.2.5. Diseases and parasites connected to livestock-breeding
In natural conditions parasites have low effect on the population of their host, but this is
not so when a parasite “jumps” from one host to another (Caughley & Sinclair, 1994).
Then most often pathogens are transmitted from domestic to wild animals. Through them
they are transmitted from one isolated geographic region to another.
Most often cases of parasitical and bacterial diseases in chamois in Europe are
caused by the so called pneumonia complex (dictyocaulosis, pasteurellosis), scab
(Sarcoptes rupicaprae) and conjunctivitis (most often Mycoplasma conjuctivae),
(Giacometti et al, 1997). Four cases of positive samples for Q fever which is
transmitted from domestic animals were found. The conjunctivitis and the scab are
transmitted to chamois from domestic animals (Festa-Bianchet, 2002). Due to the
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chamois migrations – seasonal migrations, searching for food or during the breeding
period etc. the infections (for example the scab) can be transmitted to far away from the
places where the contact with the domestic animals has been. Most often the infection is
transmitted when males move to different groups of females in the mating period (Festa-
Bianchet, 2002).
Some investigations on the endoparasites for chamois in Bulgaria has Tyufekchiev
(1978), where the availability of family Trichostrongylidae from genus Ostertagia and
Nematodirus in different level of invasion, family Protostrongylidae from genus
Protostrongylus and Cystocaulus, Trichuris ovis, taenias and the big liver–rot Fasciola
hepatica are found. Chamois suffers many diseases found in domestic animals such as
Fasciolosis (rot),Echinococcosis, Brucellosis, Dictyocaulosis.
Importance: significant / potential
2.2.6. Competition with domestic livestock
As serious threat for the Apennines chamois Lovari (1997) shows the competition for
pastures with domestic stock and especially domestic goat.
The grazing is the second important factor changing the chamois habitats. The
over-grazing could be a reason for decrease of the food base and the presence of dogs
and herdsmen concentrates the chamois in the most unreachable and poor grazing
regions, as this leads to higher social stress. This is why the permissible number of
grazing domestic stock is determined annually with the preparation of the Annual Plan on
grazing and hay use, consistent with the Parks Management Plans and the forestry
management plans. The data analyses show that on the territory of Rila NP, grazing is
only 3 to 5 % of the actual permissible number of domestic stock, which is decreasing
every year. Similar in Central Balkan NP during the last 40 50 years due to social
economic reasons the number of grazing animals in the high-mountain treeless zone has
drastically decreased. At present grazing domestic animals are no rivals of the chamois
within the National Parks.
For Bulgaria this threat exists only close to the settlements.
Importance: insignificant / potential
2.2.7. Fragmentation
Fragmentation of ranges and populations leads to a decreasing sustainability (resistance)
towards diseases, as a result of aggravated inbreeding. As a result diversion from the
periodicity of mating and birth, including immature animals in the mating period,
unbalanced sex and age structure, weakening of vitality and reproductive abilities of the
species etc. could be registered. In small and isolated populations this could lead to
chamois extinction. Actually the chamois populations in Rila, Pirin, Tsentralen Balkan and
West Rhodopes do not interact i.e. there are no natural corridors. Since no genetic
investigations on animals from separate populations found in Bulgaria have been made,
the need of implementing a “blood refreshment” procedure can not be determined.
Besides the isolations between separate populations, another influencing factor is
the internal disunion of a local population – presence of some groups inhabiting habitats
away from the main core. This may cause difficulties for direct and free interaction
between the animals from the different local groups.
Main factors causing isolation by fragmentation of the range are:
Construction of ski tracks and equipments, intensive tourist pressure on the
main tourist routes;
Construction and building of roads, increased urbanization in certain regions,
building of hydro power-plants and micro Hydro-Power Stations and servicing
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roads. The infrastructure and equipments leads not only to loss of suitable
habitats and direct disturbance but it also makes easy access possible for e.g.
poaching.
Importance: significant / potential
2.2.8. Hybridization with the introduced Alpine chamois
In 1977 in Kormisosh State hunting reserve chamois from Switzerland were introduced
(Spiridonov and Genov, 1997; Bedrov, 1999 etc.). According to Bedrov (1999) 15 female
and 1 male chamois were introduced and in 1978 two male from Devin were transported
but one of them died. According to Genov and Massei (1989) eight chamois were
imported from Austria and later 2 male were transported from the Devin population. In
accordance with an official letter from RFB Plovdiv to SFA (Ref. No LR 3 March from 20
January 2006) , in 1978 eleven female and two male chamois were imported from
Switzerland. Due to sterility of the introduced male chamois (from Switzerland), 2 male
from Devin breeding farm and 1 from Rila (Sara giol locality) were transported. Although
there are some differences in the data, it is a fact that at the end of the 70ties one group
of 13-15 chamois from the alpine subspecies with domination of the female were
introduced.
In the 30ties of the 20
th
century chamois were hunted in Chervenata stena locality
(Lovets magazine, 1936) and in a letter for “establishing new forest reserves, sites
Karamush, Laki (State archive Smolyan, fund 951, inventory No 2, archive 62) it is
mentioned that the region is inhabited by chamois. According to old hunters and staff of
SFA from the region, before the introduction in 1977, chamois were found only in the
region of Chervenata stena and around Sushitsa River. Even though having low number
and possibly low heterozygosis the Balkan subspecies was found here before the
reintroduction. Male animals from the Rhodopes and Rila were also transported. As a
result the two subspecies created hybrid and more vital population with higher genetic
diversity, reaching 230 – 250 animals in 1994 (Bedrov, 1999). The census from 13
December 2005 confirmed the presence of 220-300 chamois in Kormisosh SGBS and the
neighbouring territories as in the last years the chamois take new habitats within the
breeding station and neighbouring forestry units. This population cannot be accepted as
isolated and exchange of animals (probably young vagrants) was surely made. Twenty
chamois were reported in the neighbouring Kormisosh Breeding station Hvoina FU (State
archive Smolyan, fund 854, inventory No 2, archive 9). The locality within Hvoina FU is
about 30 km west of the Kormisosh locality and approximately at the same distance from
the Devin one. If it was completely isolated it was probably not going to survive by now
as its number is under the biological minimum (inbreeding etc.).
Additional studies are needed in order to find out what is the extend of
hybridization with the alpine subspecies of the Laki population and the rest of the
Rhodopes subpopulations. The two subspecies are divided based on differences in the
teeth line on the upper jaw and the horn characteristics (Kryštufek et al., 1997). The
studies should include craniometrical measures and DNA analyses.
Importance: significant / local
3. NATURE CONSERVATION STATUS, TAKEN MEASURES ON MANAGEMENT AND
CONSERVATION OF THE SPECIES AND THE INHABITED TERRITORIES AND
HABITATS
3.1. Legal status
3.1.1. National legislation
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After the Biodiversity Act changes (SG, issue 88 from 4 November 2005) the Balkan
chamois is included in Annex 2 and Annex 3 of the Act. In accordance to Article 38 (1) for
the animal species from Annex 3 are prohibited:
1. All forms of deliberate animal catching or killing using any equipment, means and
methods;
2. Chasing and disturbing, especially during the breeding periods, raising the kids,
wintering and migration;
5. Taking found dead animals;
6. Possessing, transferring, transportation, export, trading and offering for sale or
exchange of animals taken from nature;
7. Taxidermy, possessing, exhibiting in public, transferring, transportation,
exportation, trading and offering for sale or exchange of stuffed animals;
According to Article 75 of the Biodiversity Act “The prohibitions from Article 38 for
the chamois species and European wild cat start to operate with the operation of the
Accession Agreement of Republic of Bulgaria to the European Union – 1 January 2007”.
The species is included in the Red Book of the Republic of Bulgaria under the
category “threatened”.
According to the present legislation the chamois is a hunting species from Annex 1
of the Hunting and Game Conservation Act. The hunting within the National Parks is
prohibited.
In accordance to Article 74 of the Regulation of Implementation of Hunting and
Game Conservation Act the hunting of chamois, alpine ibex, Tibetan yak and capercaillie
is done as organized hunting tourism or with scientific purpose with permission issued by
the director of the State Forest Agency.
3.1.2. International legislation
The Balkan chamois is included in Annex 2 of the European Directive on the habitats
conservation (Directive 92/43) which requires strict protection of the species and the
designation of territories with special regime of protection (the Natura 2000 network),
and also in Annex 4 – plant and animal species of community importance requiring strict
protection.
Included in Annex 3 of the Bern Convention ratified by Bulgaria on 25 January
1991, operating since 1 May 1991, update SG, issue 23 from 10 March 1995.
3.2. Conservation and management of the species population in the country
3.2.1. Institutional responsibilities on the chamois conservation and
management in Bulgaria
3.1.1.1. National Parks and Reserves
In spite of the wide territories, considering the large mammals’ populations within the
National Parks, conditions for functioning of completely independent, natural, self-
dependent systems do not exist. All living plant and animal species found on the territory
of the National Parks are subject to conservation, no matter whether it is protected
species or not. The chamois is among them. The Parks are divided into a certain number
of park regions each of which is divided to a number of guarding sections. Each guarding
section is guarded by one employee - “Park guarding and control”. The hunting is
absolutely prohibited within the National Parks and any such act is recognized as
poaching and is in violation with the Protected Areas Act.
One of the main methods for chamois conservation is popularizing the species
among the local communities. After the establishment of the Parks administrations, more
intentional activities using the parks for education purposes for the children as well as for
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wider part of the population have started. Enthusiasts were always there to lead the
children in the park, aiming at nature conservation education.
In connection to the chamois population management since 1999 in Central Balkan
NP and since 2001 in Pirin NP, yearly spring, - and since 2002- autumn censuses were
organized and carried out. The park authorities carry out simultaneous observations in all
known species habitats for several days. As a result of the carried out monitoring, the
National Park Directory set up and maintains a database regarding the number, the sex
and age structure.
In 2001 the Action Plan for the conservation and the restoration of the chamois in
Central Balkan NP was developed (Ganchev, 2001) which purpose was to make wide
analyses on the reasons for the low chamois number within the Park, as well as to
identify the main parameters and activities for its future management, guarding and
reproduction. The Plan includes methodology for monitoring the species as used in Rila
and Pirin NP. Concrete measures for decrease of negative factors and improving the
conditions for chamois existence in Central Balkan NP are marked in the plan. Following
the same principle a methodology for Pirin NP is developed. The park directorates carry
out supporting activities for improving the chamois status rock-salt is provided in the
chamois habitats. Besides the provision of their minerals need this activity is carried out
aiming to keep the chamois for a maximum period of time within the parks’ territories
where the poachers’ access is more difficult.
The main information for analyses in the parks directorates is gathered by the
“Park guarding and control” (the park rangers) employees. It includes number of animals
observed, age, sex and location of the observations. The assessment of the age and the
sex of the animal is not always possible. The main reason for that are often the long
observation distances and the moderate observation equipment that the employees use.
The park directorates have different number of Biodiversity experts who analyze the
previously provided information. The gathered and analyzed data can provide information
on the population number, status and structure. For more specific information, external
expertise is needed e.g. on species biology, determining subspecies, gene pools and
presence of inbreeding, diseases and degeneration of the population.
3.1.1.2. SFA structures
Outside the National Parks, the chamois is managed by the SFA structures (SGBS and
FU). In the SGBS in accordance to the forestry management plans and the hunting
management projects, small clear cuts for creating more pastures, wintering places and
places for salt are prepared. There is a well functioning guarding control. The harvesting
is done in accordance to the hunting management plans following hunting tourism rules.
Chamois are found within the following Game-Breeding stations and Forestry
Units:
Smolyan RFB – Izvora SGBS, Mugla FU and Smolyan FU, Devin FU, Borino
FU, Trigrad FU, Shiroka laka FU, Mihalkovo FU, Hvoina FU, Slaveino FU*;
Pazardzhik RFB Borovo SGBS, Rodopi SGBS, Shiroka polyana SGBS and
Chepino SGBS, Rakitovo SGBS;
Plovdiv RFB – Kormisosh SGBS, Krichim FU, Assenovgrad FU. Larger parts
of the territories of Assenovgrad FU and Slaveino FU inhabited by chamois, are
rented in hunting management compared to Kormisosh SGBS, Laki.;
Sofia RFB – Vitosha NP, Kostenets FU;
Kyustendil RFB Vitoshko Studena SGBS (Vitosha NP), Rilski manastir
NP.
3.1.1.3. Regional Hunting and Anglers Associations (HAA)
Outside the SGBS the chamois habitats fall within the state managed regions within the
FU and in the territories rented by the State to local hunting associations and managed
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by them. In the rented territories in general the level of poaching and the disturbance is
much higher.
Part of the populations fall within the territory managed by Sokol HAA.
In 2001, Smolyan excludes 440 ha of its hunting territory as a “chamois breeding
reserve”.
3.2.2. Habitats Conservation
Three of the four Bulgarian Balkan chamois subpopulations are protected within the
Central Balkan, Rila and Pirin National Parks and the included reserves. For the protection
of separate habitats of the Rhodopes subpopulation, there are the reserves Kupena,
Dupkata and the protected territories Karadzhov kamak and Struiliitsa, Chervenata
Stena.
Bulgaria still has no designated protected zones as part of the European ecological
network Natura 2000. The populations in Central Balkan, Rila, Pirin and Vitosha fall
within the territories of the proposed protected zones with the same names. Most of the
chamois habitats in the Rhodopes fall within potential Natura 2000 sites.
3.3. Regimes on chamois use
Most of the chamois habitats in the country fall within Central Balkan, Rila and Pirin
National Parks where hunting is prohibited.
Outside the protected territories chamois are managed in accordance to the 10 year
game management plans. The plan includes habitat assessment. After that the maximum
permissible stock number for the habitat is determined, tables for the perspective game
development for reaching the desired density sex and age structure are prepared. When
reaching the permissible stock number the hunting bag is determined as the winter
natural losses and losses from poaching are considered.
With the Biodiversity Act changes, chamois will become a protected species from
the EU accession date for Bulgaria. According to the present legislation, chamois is a
hunting species from Annex 1 of the Hunting and Game Conservation Act (SG). In
accordance to Article 74 of The Regulation of Implementation of Hunting and Game
Conservation Act the chamois hunting is carried out as organized hunting tourism or with
scientific purposes with a permission issued by the Director of the State Forest Agency.
3.4. Reintroduction in Vitosha
In the past chamois was found in Vitosha Mountain. It is not known when exactly the
species became extinct in the mountain, but during the last hundred years only single
animals were very rarely seen, most probably coming from Rila Mountains. The decrease
of game and domestic stock in Vitosha during the last fifteen years, lead to bad pastures
condition and many habitats which in principle are suitable for large herbivores are left
unused.
Because of these reasons in 2002 Vitoshko – Studena SGBS, Vitosha NP and
Balkani Wildlife Society started a project for the restoration of the Balkan chamois in
Vitosha.
In 2002 after a acclimatisation enclosure of 30 ha was constructed the catching
and the transportation of chamois from the Rhodopes started. Different catching methods
were used anaesthetic rifle, nets etc. The catching of live animals is quite a difficult
process. Only in 2006 for 114 field days (at least 2 people engaged) 10 chamois were
caught of which 4 transported to Vitosha. By now 16 chamois were transported to
Vitosha, the birth of 12 kids is reported.
3.5. The importance of the chamois as an eco-tourism object
The acceptance of Central Balkan and Rila NP in the PAN Parks system set the beginning
of the development of new tourism, the so called ecotourism. This kind of tourism has
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the task to engage mainly the local communities around the parks with biodiversity
conservation, organising green schools and attracting the tourists by introducing local
crafts, traditions, customs and last but not least, local wild animal and plant species. As a
start for direct contact with the wild nature, construction of specialised routes had started
tourists trail whose purpose it is to show the species diversity, with chamois among
them. For example such an eco-trail has been the opened in 2005 - Beli Iskar in Rila NP
from which chamois habitats can be observed, with very often single or groups of 3 4
animals. The species attracts mainly tourists interested in observations and photography
of wild animals as well as many foreigners. It can be said that the chamois is an object of
tourism as one of the main species inhabiting the national parks.
3.6. The role of the former economic use as a factor for the species
conservation
The Rhodopes population inhabits mainly the territories of the game-breeding stations
and the FU (rented territories to the local HAA and state managed regions). This
population is more vulnerable than the ones within the national parks due to the
presence of many settlement areas, road network and the fragmentation of the separate
habitats. In spite of that the chamois number in the Rhodopes in the last 15 years is
stable and even increasing. The censuses carried out in December 2005 show that in the
game-breeding station even though there is hunting, the density of the species is 10-15 /
100 ha, which is the highest density in the country. The regulated hunting is
compensated with the measures against poaching and conservation including
improvement of the species’ habitats. In these conditions with the comparatively high
reproductive rate of chamois, the harvesting does not have a negative impact on the
populations’ growth. No hunting or harvesting in high population density leads to a
decrease in the reproductive rate (section 1.2.2) and higher natural mortality. In cases of
planned harvesting in line with the natural development of the population, part of the
taken out animals would die of natural causes in near future i.e. the sustainable use
based on monitoring using scientifically accepted methods doesn’t play negative influence
on the population. Even in the EU countries poaching increases significantly when legal
harvesting is lacking. In conditions of illegal hunting there is no data on the number, sex
and age of the shot animals, or on the time and conditions of the shooting, which could
have a very negative influence on the species.
The Balkan chamois is a desired game species (usually the demand is more than
the supply) with a comparatively high price and of special importance for the SGBS. The
chamois hunters during hunting trips are also offered other game species (roe deer, wild
boar, etc.). After the services are added to that, the incomes from the chamois license
usually is around half of the whole income from hunters who chose the respective SGBS,
mainly thanks to the chamois. All this motivates the local structures to sustainable
management of the population of chamois and to conserve its habitats (of which many
other species benefit).
In Izvora SGBS with an area of around 6 000 ha, for the last 10 years the
incomes only from the chamois licenses come up to 269 125 BGL and the total income
from the same hunters who hunted on chamois with the included service taxes and other
game species is around half a million leva (477,387 BGL). The average chamois shot per
year are 10.8 animals (6-15). During the census on 7 December 2005 the chamois
number in Izvora SGBS was 230-280 animals. If we assume that in the last 10 years the
number was 200-280 animals then the annual quota had varied between 3.9 % – 5.4 %
of the population. In spite of the harvest, the chamois density here is the highest in the
country. The poaching level in Izvora SGBS is low and in practice it does not affect the
population growth. In the last 15 years chamois dispersed in territories of the
neighbouring forestry units and hunting societies. At some places their density is still low
mainly due to poaching. After obtaining some chamois licenses, the neighbouring hunting
society Devin uses the species for hunting tourism.
The incomes from this activity motivates its members to preserve the species and
the illegal shooting has significantly decreased.
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Chamois are also hunted on the territory of the Sokol hunting society, Smolyan
which in 2001 excludes from its wild boar hunting territory 440 ha and designated them
as chamois breeding reserve. The permissible stock number was reached and annually 2-
3 chamois are legally hunted. Despite the benefits of the legal shooting there is still
chamois poaching during the wild boar hunting (section 2.2.2.1.1.) but the presence of
density close to the maximum permissible stock number, shows that the poaching there
is not a limiting factor.
The complete chamois hunting prohibition (as it is foreseen according to the last
Biodiversity Act changes and Directive 92/43/EEC) would lead to loss of interest towards
the species and increase the illegal hunting and degrade the habitats. In spite of the
complete chamois hunting prohibition in Greece and the existence of many uninhabited
suitable habitats, the species hasn’t increased its number and its range in the last 20
years. According to Dr. Haritakis Papaioannou one of the main limiting factors is
poaching. There are no reasons to believe that in Bulgaria this will happen differently.
Moreover this would lead to a decrease in chamois number and density within and
around the game-breeding stations and would have very negative results on the long-
term survival of the subspecies in the country.
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4. TARGETS OF THE ACTION PLAN FOR CHAMOIS
4.1. Main target
Restoration and conservation of the Balkan chamois and its habitats in Bulgaria. The
species population in the next 10 years should reach a number of at least 5 000 animals
within the country.
4.2. Secondary targets
Considerable decrease of poaching on the species.
Providing sustainable use and management of the species.
Providing the conservation and the legal protection of the species key habitats.
Establishment of quality base for database and GIS model for integrated analyses, to
make possible managerial decisions on the species populations’ conservation and its
key habitats.
Integrating the targets of the present Plan in the national and regional sector
strategies, plans, programmes, projects and policies for territories where chamois are
found and for general biodiversity conservation.
Coordinating the work and exchange of information between the interested
institutions and organizations on national and international level for the effective
conservation of the Balkan chamois.
Optimizing the effect in planning and applying measures for conservation and
sustainable management of the species based on scientifically proven data.
Maintain the genetic purity of the local subspecies and providing effective genetic
exchange between its (sub)populations.
Awareness raising and increasing the nature conservation culture of the different
target groups regarding the biology, ecology, distribution, nature conservation status
and the species importance, and sharpening the sensibility of the community towards
the problems connected to its conservation.
5. ACTIVITIES NEEDED FOR THE CONSERVATION OF THE SPECIES AND ITS
HABITATS
5.1. Legislation activities
5.1.1. Introducing regulated use of the species following the rules for the
exclusions of growing populations and the ones with reached minimal
permissible stock for harvest, which number is confirmed with the census by
independent observers. The use should be done following the sustainable
hunting principle based on the guidelines of the IUCN Caprinae working
group.
In The Regulation of Implementation of Hunting and Game Conservation Act the chamois
hunting rules according to the recommendations of the present Action Plan are shown in
details.
Aim: Providing sustainable quota and management of the species outside the
protected territories, using strong support and engaging the hunting community.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Constant
Success indicators: Successfully applied quota mechanism for sustainable use
leading to increasing the chamois number in Bulgaria. The optimum density is reached
and widening the range in habitats outside the PT, regular monitoring of the species,
annual plans and reports on the use developed and applied.
5.1.2. Legal regulation of the registration of trophies obtained until now with
proven origin after paying of the respective registration tax.
The registration tax should be popularized widely in the media.
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Aim: Restricting poaching on the species aiming to obtain and show/ exhibit
trophies.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Established database on the trophies and the registered
trophies.
5.1.3. Criminalisation of the illegal chamois hunting according to Article 278,
paragraph 4 of the Criminal Code
Aim: Strengthening the penal responsibility and decrease of illegal chamois
shooting.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: The chamois and the bear are included in the text of Article 4,
paragraph 278V of the Criminal Code
5.1.4. Changing Article 67, paragraph 4 of the Biodiversity Act with a view to
possible prohibition of the subspecies import.
Aim: Preventing the genetic pollution with other subspecies.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Urgent
Success indicators: The word “subspecies” is added to the text of Article 64,
paragraph 4.
5.1.5. Changing and complementing the HGCA for regulating the responsibilities
of the hunting societies on rough violations during group hunting and regular
violations of HGCA, PAA and BA.
Planning sanctions for the societies including deprivation of the hunting right within the
hunting region for 1 year in case of a violation during group hunting. Also on non-
following the present Plan and the connected normative documents and the hunting
management plans.
Aim: Discontinuation of the illegal chamois hunting during hunting on other species.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: In chapter “Administrative violations” of HGCA; text on
penalties for societies during group hunting as well as in cases of systematic violations of
HGCA by members or the societies is added.
5.1.6. Including in HGCA (Section 4, chapter “Game Management”), RIHGCA
(Chapter 4, „Management and game conservation”) and the Regulation of
the hunting management for prohibition of wild boar facilities (feeding
places, mud baths, etc.) in a zone of 500 m around key chamois habitats. To
prohibit an artificial increase of the density of wild boar, as the species
disturbs the chamois and deteriorates their habitats.
Aim: Restricting the species disturbance when building and hunting management
use, bio-technical equipment in and around key habitats.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Changing the legislation base.
5.1.7. Prohibition for carrying shot guns and rifles, arbalests and bows on the
territory of the national parks and reserves.
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The prohibition should be valid for a prepared shooting weapon (taken out of the
case) as well as for weapons taken apart or parts of such, kept and/or legally
transported. The prohibition is valid for personal as well as for business guarding
weapons; permitting only the use of short pistol or revolvers for the needs of the guards.
Aim: Restricting the illegal hunting within the protected territories.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Regulated prohibitions in PAA and/or Explosives, Firearms and
Ammunitions Control Act for carrying weapons on the territory of the protected territories
and increased penalties in cases of violations.
5.2. Policies
5.2.1. The National Action Plan for chamois should be adequately integrated in
the National Plan for Biodiversity Conservation.
Aim: Including the activities of the Plan in the NNPS priorities and providing its
adequate financing.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Medium
Success indicators: Priority activities of the present Plan are integrated in the
National Plan for Biodiversity Conservation and adequately financed.
5.2.2. Creating an institutional working group with Decree by the Minister of
Environment and Water with representatives of SFA, MoEW, BAS, hunting
and nature conservation NGOs for monitoring the Plan. On implementation,
planning and approving the annual shooting quotas, accepting the annual
reports and preparing annual programmes based on the present Action Plan
including:
Planning annual monitoring activities connected to determining and
accounting the main population indicators.
Planning annual activities on habitats conservation and restoration.
Annual activities on the species use.
Annual activities connected to the species reintroduction.
Activities connected to the preservation of the genetic purity of the Balkan
subspecies.
Time limits and institutions responsible for development of the annual
programme.
Time limits and institutions responsible for reporting the implementation of
the annual programme.
Other priority activities.
The annual programmes should guarantee the implementation of the present Plan.
Aim: Applying the coordinated standard activities between the different institutions.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Organizing and carrying out of at least three workshops of the
working group, where the annual plans are developed and approved, and the annual
shooting quota are planned and approved, and the annual reports are considered and
approved.
5.2.3. Integrating measures for decreasing the illegal chamois hunting within the
whole strategy and the annual plans for controlling activities of SFA and RFB.
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Aim: Providing maximal effective terrain control and prevention against illegal
chamois hunting.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Included specific measures on control and prevention of illegal
hunting in the NP and SFA strategies and the annual plans.
5.2.4. Carrying out seminars in the risk regions with representatives of FU, SGBS,
National and Nature Parks, HAA, MOEW and the prosecution.
Aim: Educating the employees and coordinating the measures against illegal
chamois hunting.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: At least five seminars in risk regions per year carried out and
employees educated.
5.2.5. Including urgent and priority measures for chamois conservation in the
annual plans of Rila, Pirin and Central Balkan National Parks, Vitosha,
Balgarka and Rilski manastir Nature Parks, RIEW Smolyan, Plovdiv,
Pazardzhik etc.
Aim: Integrating the targets of the present Plan in the Management plans of the
protected territories where chamois are present.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Medium (permanent)
Success indicators: All annual plans on activities in the protected territories include
adequate measures for chamois conservation foreseen in the present Plan.
5.2.6. Integration of the present Action Plan in the hunting and forestry
management plans and programs as well as in the annual plans for use.
Aim: Coordinating the targets and the activities of the present Plan with the ones
set in the forestry and hunting plans.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Hunting and forestry plans on local level include priority
measures for chamois conservation foreseen in the present Plan.
5.2.7. Actualization of the regional action plans on the territory of the three
national parks and creating such for populations in the Rhodopes.
Aim: Analyzing the specific conditions and problems to take specific measures for
conservation of the local populations.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Developed regional plans
5.3. Direct measures for habitats conservation
5.3.1. Designating chamois habitats as Natura 2000 sites.
Aim: Providing the conservation and the sustainable management of the species
key habitats.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
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Success indicators: At least 80 % of the species habitats are included in Natura
2000 protected zones.
5.3.2 . Designating bio-corridors between key populations: Vitosha Rila Pirin,
Rila – Rhodopian as well as with the remote habitats in the Rhodopes and Stara Planina.
Aim: Providing genetic exchange between the populations.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Bio-corridors between the separate habitats of the species
designated and included in Natura 2000
5.3.3. Designating priority sites and chamois habitats as protected territories
according to the PAA. Establishing a network of protected territories on the northern
boundary of Rhodope Greek National Park which main purpose is to provide protection of
the trans-boundary chamois population and to provide three corridors through the
municipalities of Rudozem, Smolyan and Devin (Tsigansko gradishte PA, Gerzovitsa PA
and Kozite skali NM).
Aim: Preserving the species key-linkage territories
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Designation of at least 50 % of the species key territories as
PAs.
5.4. Direct measures for species conservation
5.4.1. Organizing and carrying out of mandatory number of checks of the hunting
societies operating within (close to) the chamois habitats by the SFA, MIA
and RIEW organs.
Aim: Discontinuation of the illegal chamois hunting during the hunting on other
animals.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Certain number of unexpected checks is realized. Violators
caught up and sanctioned.
5.4.2. Organizing and carrying out mandatory number of checking of the tourist
chalets, hydro technical equipments (the guarding of the dams) close to the
chamois habitats by the organs of SFA, MIA, and RIEW together with NGOs.
Aim: Discontinuation of the illegal chamois hunting by authority staff and chalet
hosts.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Certain number of unexpected checks is realized. Violators
caught up and sanctioned.
5.4.3. Strengthened guarding measures within the key habitats.
Aim: Increasing the prevention and maximum restriction of the poaching.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: The intensity of checking on the territories with an easy access
and during the months of October and November, is increased with 50 %. Number of
violators caught up and poaching attempts averted.
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5.4.4. In case of proven genetic influence of the Alpine chamois subpopulation in
Kormisosh, developing a programme for increased shooting of male of this
subpopulation and distributing male from the local population aiming for
gradual genetic absorption of the Alpine genes.
Aim: Preserving the genetic purity of the species.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Programme that provides restoration of the original genotype in
long-term period developed and applied.
5.4.5. Developing and maintaining national MOEW database for organizing and
carrying out illegal hunting as well as trading with illegally obtained trophies.
The database should include information on the revealed and averted
attempts on poaching, trading with illegally obtained trophies or exhibiting of
such in public, the carried out investigation and penalty cases, personal
information on the poachers etc.
Aim: Finding out the organized channels for illegal hunting tourism and the
popularized poaching practices unfavourable for the species.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Developed, periodically updated and analyzed database.
Assisting the investigation and court organs in proving recidivisms using the results of
the database analyses.
5.4.6. Developing and applying of an effective system for (financial) stimulation
of the controlling organs and the local people taking part in catching of
poachers or providing information on them. A budget of 50 000 BGL per year
is needed, covering bonuses of 1 000 BGL for a drawn statement and 500
BGL for provision of information.
Aim: Stimulating the increase of the control and the prevention on the illegal
hunting on local level.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Increased percentage of caught poachers by the control organs,
as a result of provided information by the local people.
5.4.7. Organizing regular joined checking of the illegal chamois trophies and
other hunting and protected species in the public restaurants and private
houses by representatives of MOEW, SFA, MIA and the prosecution.
Aim: Decreasing the illegal shooting for illegal exhibition of trophies as an
attraction.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Lack of exhibited animals in public restaurants.
5.4.8. Diverting the tourist trails and prohibition of forestry management
activities in the key habitats and surroundings during the breeding period
(April, May, June). The important breeding habitats take a small area of the
FU/SGBS territory and include rocky terrains with major inclination and
inaccessible low productive forests. At the same time the regular disturbance
in this period leads to high mortality of the newborn.
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Aim: Decreasing the losses of newborn caused by the disturbance during the
breeding period.
Importance: Medium
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Temporally discontinued access to key habitats and tourist trails
in the protected territories during the breeding period (April – June). Prohibition on
forestry management activities within the key breeding habitats of the species in this
period. Including the planned restrictions and prohibitions in the local forestry
management plans.
5.4.9. Decreasing the number of feral dogs within the species key habitats
including the NP.
Aim: Eliminating the influence of feral dogs especially in the key habitats of the
species located close to chalets, settlements and dumpsites.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Lack of feral dogs and the shepherds’ dogs wear fetter (rods
that stop them from running too fast and chasing the wild ungulates).
5.4.10. Restricting the grazing of domestic stock within the key habitats.
Aim: Restricting the competition in high concentration of domestic stock (goats)
and prevention of transmission of infective diseases from the domestic animals.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Regulated prohibition for grazing within key habitats and plans
for permissible number animals /ha in the rest of the habitats.
5.4.11. Reintroduction of the species in suitable habitats in Vitosha, West
and East Stara Planina, Vrachanski Balkan NP and in suitable but uninhabited
habitats in the Rhodopes etc.
Aim: Restoration of the species in its past habitats and reaching optimal density for
the country.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: At least one successful reintroduction until 2012.
5.4.12. Reinforcement in small and isolated populations in cases of
inbreeding by trans/relocating chamois.
Aim: Averting the inbreeding within the frames of small and isolated populations.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Populations where the danger of inbreeding is significant and
reinforcement with optimum number of animals for enriching their adaptive gene pools
and connecting the fragmented subpopulations.
5.4.13. Establishing and management of a national database of SFA for the
chamois trophies, registering all trophies of the species in the database
including protocol for CIC evaluation and a picture. Placing of a hologram
sticker on each registered trophy with unique ID number coinciding with the
one on the CIC evaluation protocol. The database should be accessible for
checking by the control organs (MIA, MOEW, SFA).
Aim: Discontinuing the illegal trophies trading and more effective control.
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Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Database of SFA established and the trophies registered.
5.4.14. Placing detectors with a GSM module for registering shooting within
the key habitats.
Aim: Effective fighting against the illegal shooting.
Importance: Medium
Urgency: Permanent
5.4.15. Establishing a mobility group of the three National Parks and
reserves which performs sudden checks without the knowledge of the park
authorities.
Aim: Effective reaction against the illegal shooting.
Importance: Medium
Urgency: Permanent
5.5. Monitoring and scientific studies
5.5.1. Including methodology for chamois monitoring (Annex 1) in the National
Biodiversity Monitoring System (NBMS). The need of such methodology is
caused by the use of different census methods by the different structures.
Determining the exact number of the animals and the dynamics of the
population is most important. For determining the dynamics a unified
integrated methodology should be used, so the data coming from different
places and from different years can be analyzed and compared. For places
where shooting quota are allowed the censuses should be done by
independent observers and should be performed at least once per four years
as the population is counted.
Aim: Determining and following the chamois population parameters in Bulgaria
according to unique adapted methodology and criteria.
Importance: High
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Methodology established and successfully applied, included in
NBMS. National database including the results from the monitoring established and
regularly updated.
5.5.2. Carrying out census following the approved methodology and using
independent observers every three years also in cases of doubts for incorrect
data when planning the harvest/use.
Aim: Revising the received data by the annual censuses data and effective planning
of the annual quota for shooting.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Census organized and carried out following the approved
methodology and according to the planned time limits. Protocols and reports developed
listing specific recommendations on the censuses.
5.5.3. Training volunteers for carrying out censuses.
Aim: Providing coordination and increasing the accuracy of the census of the
species
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Importance: Medium
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: At least 15 volunteers trained per year
5.5.4. Preparation and establishment of a GIS model for the inhabited and the
potential chamois habitats in Bulgaria and national chamois database
including number, distribution, density, investigations of the health and
genetic status.
Aim: Creating a wide base for determining the potential habitats of the species and
integrated analyses and management decision making for maintaining optimal condition
of the species population parameters and the health status. Form for each shot animal
and DNA samples and veterinary medical examinations.
Importance: Medium
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Developed, tested and proven model. GIS database established
and periodically updated from ? 31 December 2007. Filled forms and samples for all
harvested animals received. Database established and running.
5.5.5. Determining the level of hybridization by craniometrical examinations and
DNA analysis of the subpopulation in the region of Kormisosh game-breeding
station.
Aim: Determining the level of species hybridization.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Short-term
Success indicators: Investigation of the level of hybridization carried out.
5.5.6. Investigating the presence and the level of inbreeding within small and
isolated populations using DNA tests.
Aim: Optimizing the effect when planning and applying measures for averting
inbreeding and increasing the vitality of the populations on the base of scientifically
proven data.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Short-term
Success indicators: Investigation of the level of inbreeding carried out.
5.6. International cooperation
5.6.1. Exchange of information and coordinating the activities with international
organizations and institutions working with the chamois.
Aim: Exchange of constructive experience for realization of the monitoring and
applying common priorities in the management and the conservation of the chamois
populations.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Participation in at least 50 % of all important meetings
concerning chamois and Caprinаe on an international scale. Established active
international correspondence and exchange of information.
5.6.2. Transboundary cooperation on applying joint activities on conservation and
management of shared chamois populations. Development of joined
programmes on chamois conservation in the Rhodopes (between Rhodope
Nature Park in Greece and RFB and RIEW Smolyan). Development of
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common programmes with Greece, FYROM and Serbia for potential
reintroductions in Slavyanka, Belasitsa, West Stara Planina etc.
Aim: Conservation and effective management of the trans-boundary chamois
populations as shared richness.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Realisation of joined activities and projects on conservation of
Balkan chamois. At least two trans-boundary protected territories on the conservation of
the species designated.
5.7. Awareness raising among the different target groups
5.7.1. Development, printing and distribution of leaflets, posters, stickers on the
chamois and popular articles in specialized edition for the different target
groups.
Aim: Raising the awareness and the nature conservation culture of the different
target groups.
Importance: Medium
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Printed and distributed information materials at least three
posters with total number of 7 000 copies, at least 3 stickers with 10 000 copies. At least
2 popular articles in specialized editions published annually.
5.7.2. Establishment and maintenance of internet home page for the Balkan
chamois containing rich information and education database.
Aim: Raising the awareness and the nature conservation culture of the wide public
in global aspect.
Importance: Medium
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: Established and periodically updated internet home page.
5.7.3. Organizing and carrying out campaigns for explaining the prohibitions for
hunting and weapons carrying within the NP and the protected territories as
well as within territories managed by the hunting associations out of the
hunting season. Development and placing of information signs on the
national parks entrances and within important habitats including short texts
on the species conservation status and telephone for signals for reporting of
noticed violation.
Aim: Increasing the prevention and the control on the violations to the species and
the awareness of the local communities and the tourist on the species conservation
status and its importance.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
Success indicators: At least one campaign per year carried out with the NP and the
protected territories. Information signs within the key habitats in the whole country
developed and placed.
5.7.4. Information campaign on advertising the “green” telephone line for
reporting of noticed poachers by visitors of the national parks.
Aim: Increasing the prevention and the control on illegal activities against the
species.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Permanent
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Success indicators: Information materials issued and distributed in key places.
Number of received and processed signals lead to catching violators. Report on the
effectiveness of the campaign.
5.7.5. Development of printed publication of the present Action Plan.
Aim: Popularization of the Plan and increasing the awareness of the different target
groups.
Importance: Significant
Urgency: Sort-term
Success indicators: Published Action Plan with circulation of at least 1 000 copies.
6. REGIMES AND NORMS FOR PROTECTION AND USE
6.1. Regime on the chamois hunting prohibition
The chamois is a protected species included in Annex 3 of Article 37 of the Biodiversity
Act.
As it was noted although the species is more vulnerable in the Rhodopes than it is
in the Alpine zone of the National Parks, the population there is stable and increases its
number and range (section 1.1.3.).
For the long-term survival of the species the local communities and the interested
parties (hunting societies, structures of SFA etc.) should be motivated and involved. If
certain biological and social conditions are met, the wild Caprinae become a renewable
resource that could be sustainable used (Wegge, 1997). In planned use, the mortality by
hunting to a great extend substitutes the losses which otherwise would have been caused
by natural causes. This means that the natural mortality and the growth depend on the
density; the mortality caused by the regulated extensive hunting does not have a
significant influence on the population size. The ideal case is to take out animals just
before they die from natural causes. In practice this is not really feasible. This is why the
quota should be lower than the growth and should not exceed 8% of the population in
cases of reached optimal density.
The harvest should be done according to the exclusions mentioned in Article 48 of
Biodiversity Act and Regulation No 8 / 12 December 2003 on the rules and the conditions
for issuing permissions for the exclusions from the prohibitions introduced with the BA on
animal and plant species from Annex 3, animal species from Annex 4, all bird species
except the ones in Annexes 3 and 4 for using unselected equipments, means and
methods for catching and killing from Annex 5, issued by the Minister of Environment and
Water and the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, SG issue 4 from 16 January 2004.
In order to achieve sustainable chamois hunting the below listed set of rules
should be followed:
6.1.1. Reliable and scientifically proven monitoring system approved by the
Executive Environmental Agency and included in NBMS as at least once in 4
years censuses by independent observers are organized.
6.1.2. Maximum permissible stock number (density of the population). Chamois
inhabit mainly terrains not-suitable for agriculture and low-productivity
forestry plantations (steep, rocky terrains). Because of this chamois do not
cause significant damages to agriculture and forestry and it is appropriate
that the term “permissible stock” is changed with “minimal stock number”. In
order to allow sustainable use of chamois, the minimal stock number (the
density of the subpopulation) should not be lower than 3-5 chamois/ 100 ha
in the different capacity of the habitats. If results from additional studies
using scientifically proven methods are available the requirements for
minimal stock number could be changed by the working group but harvest
under 2/100 ha is not allowed.
6.1.3. Capacity of the habitat. In order to determine the capacity, additional
studies and GIS model development of the present and of the potential
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habitats are needed. Until the development of the GIS model the habitat
assessment of the existing hunting management plans and legislation should
be used. After the establishment of the GIS in the process of the
development of the hunting management plans, the experts should propose
changes of the model on the base of the field studies.
6.1.4. According to the exclusions in the Biodiversity Act the hunting quota are
allowed for populations having density above the minimal stock number and
has at least 15 % annual growth. In order the permit use in certain hunting
region the minimal population size is 30 chamois. The relation in use is M:F
1:1. Use over 5-8 % of the population estimation is not allowed as the trophy
male are not more than 30 % of the planned quota. The aim is maintaining
the sex ratio M:F 1:1 and the distribution of the use in sex and age groups
depends on the population structure and is corrected in cases of changing
the real structure.
6.1.5. The working group plans the quota on population level in carried out
censuses using the monitoring methodology. The quotas in the separate
administrative units (SGBS, FU) are distributed by the working group,
depending on the condition of the species in the respective units as the
amount of all animals for hunting in the different units cannot exceed the
determined population quota.
6.1.6. Hunting season. The trophy hunting of adult male before and at the
beginning of the mating period (October November) leads to the inability
for elite animals to take part in the mating. If they are absent, not all female
will be fertilised and younger male will be admitted in the mating period. The
young male loose weight after the intensive mating period and the mortality
among them in the winter becomes higher than usual. This leads to a
disturbed sex and age structure of the males, decreased reproductive rate
and higher natural mortality within the males (especially young once). This is
why the best period for trophy hunting is after the end of the mating season
in December. In the middle and at the end of the winter, many of the
habitats are not accessible and regular disturbance leads to higher mortality.
It is better that the females are hunted before the mating period. Due to the
following:
The hunting season for male chamois is from 1 December to 15 January and from
10 April to 10 May;
The hunting season for female chamois is from 15 September till 31 October;
The season for catching live chamois for reintroductions and reinforcements is
from 15 September till 20 February.
6.2. Regime for catching live animals for reintroduction in other places
All reintroductions of the species are approved by the working group after presenting of
projects for reintroduction and feasibility studies. The annual hunting quota together with
the animals for reintroductions and reinforcements cannot exceed 10 % of the
population. The relocated chamois should be marked with ear marks and are no subject
of hunting for at least 3 years after their transportation.
6.3. Prophylactic shooting of wounded animals
If wounded animals are found, these animals will be shot all year long as part of the
annual quota. In cases of doubts the working group can put up requirements for
presenting video materials and/or pictures as evidence.
6.4. Selective shooting of old and degenerate animals
If such animals exist they are shot with priority in the annual quota.
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Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation State Forestry Agency
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6.5. Means for shooting chamois
Chamois are hunted only in the presence of a qualified hunter as a guide who
possesses the certificate for selective chamois hunting and the certificate for hunting
guide;
Only animals shown by the guide and allowed for the respective season (female,
young and trophy adult male) are shot;
Only rifles with the appropriate calibre should be used for shooting - carbines with
energy of 100 m ≥ 2000 J and bullet with weight ≥ 5.0 gr.
7. OBSERVATION AND CONTROL ON THE IMPLEMENTATION AND THE EFFECT
FROM THE ACCOMPLISHED ACTIVITIES (MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF
THE PLAN)
Monitoring is a process of constant following and observation (gathering, processing and
evaluation of certain information on the planned activities) in the progress of the
implementation of the present Plan. The evaluation includes reporting the level on which
it has achieved the set targets (evaluation of the Plan effectiveness).
The monitoring and the evaluation assist the decision making process regarding
the need of joint measures, changes and adapting or actualisation of the Plan, changing
the Plan’s main approach or even its discontinuation. These activities are necessary for
reporting and for the coordination of targets for the short and long-term Plan
implementation.
The monitoring system of the present Plan is developed on the base of:
7.1. Identifying the monitoring regions of the results and the products
The regions for monitoring in the present document include the key activities and aspects
for the achievement of the main and secondary targets and the specific aims of the
activities.
7.2. Identifying main questions and criteria/ variables
For each monitoring region specific monitoring criteria/ variables are determined. This
process is facilitated by the formulation of main questions identifying the elements with
most significant importance for the Plan.
7.3. Determining indicators and norms /standards
The indicators in the present Plan are directly monitored elements that assist the
establishment of the differences in the status of certain phenomena, in quality and
quantity within a certain period of time. The indicators measure the phenomena
connected directly or indirectly to the monitoring region and the respective main
question/ criteria.
7.4. Evaluation criteria and indicators selection
The criteria used for selecting the indicators are reliability, relevance, sensibility and
expedience.
7.5. Frequency of the monitoring
The coordination of the implementation of the present Plan is the main element for
reaching the set targets. For its achievement is needed:
Carrying out at least two meetings per year of the working group implementing the
Plan activities;
Developing and presenting detailed annual plans and annual reports (activities and
finances) on the implementation of the Plan;
Carrying out complete analyses of the level of the set targets and actualising the Plan
if necessary. This should be done after the approval of the Plan in the fifth year of its
implementation.