Breeding programme


Saker Falcon - The Central Laboratory for General Ecology (CLGE) at the Bulgarian Academy of Science has been leading a project for research and conservation of Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in Bulgaria for the past four years. In 2007 Green Balkans got actively involved in the viability study for the potential reintroduction of Saker falcons in Bulgaria, after the field work had found no nesting pairs in the country. The team of the Rescue Center established close collaboration with the International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd and CLGE in the planning and development of the part concerning the potential captive breeding of birds and their further release. Within this partnership two volunteers of Green Balkans exchanged practical experience with the specialized falcon breeding centre in Wales, UK.
The results of the field studies and the practical work are published in the current document “Saker Falcon Reintroduction in Bulgaria. Viability Study.”, developed within the requirements of IUCN.
Saker Falcon Reintroduction in Bulgaria - Feasibility Study 3 Mb (pdf) download

Despite of the high percent of healed and released back in nature animals not a little part of the patients have long-lasting damages and can’t live on their own in the nature. Many of these animals are included in a series of rehabilitation courses and are adapted for their future aviary life. Some of these are included in the Centre’s program for breeding of rare species. In this way from parents that can’t live in the wild totally healthy offspring is reared.

Main aims of the program:
  • Breeding and release back in nature of common species aiming at gathering of practical experience, promotion of the program and support of the wild populations;
  • Support of rare species populations that are still found in the wild but their population trend is declining at European and Global level;
  • Development of reintroduction programs for species extinct in the wild and their long-term recovery.

Until now  the Centre has breeding success with different species like:
  • Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus)
  • Long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
  • Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
  • European Eagle owl (Bubo bubo)
  • White stork (Ciconia ciconia)


Short history of the program

Great part of the breeding program’s first steps has been directed towards more common species widely spread in the country. The aim of those initial efforts was to acquire general practical knowledge that are of extreme importance for that specific activity. The first breeding efforts started back in 1999 thanks to Dr Ivan Ivanov, Director of Sofia Zoo. The zoo provided the first birds – European Eagle Owl and Long-legged Buzzard. Later after 2003 the specialists from the Centre started constant experience exchange with different breeding centres in Europe. Our main partners in that activity are organizations from Austria, Spain and France. Some of these actions are implemented within the activities of the Balkan Vulture Action Plan (BVAP) The Plan was initiated by a consortium of international organizations amongst which leading players are Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and Black Vulture Conservation Foundation (BVCF). As of today the Plan is implemented by more than 30 NGOs from the Balkan countries and its main goal is creation of viable populations on the Balkans of the four European vulture species.
As part of this Plan after 10 year expectation and persistent work in the summer of 2007 Dr Hans Frey from the Bearded vulture breeding centre at Haringsee (EGS) , Austria provided for breeding a pair of juvenile Bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus). Later one Black vulture (Aegypius monachus) that was not fit to survive in the wild was provided by colleagues from WWF – Dadia, Greece. From Romania colleagues from the NGO Milvus Group (and mostly thanks to the efforts of Marton Kelemen) provided to the Wildlife Rescue centre one adult female Imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) that was not able to live on its own in the wild. 
Future steps for the breeding program are:
- forming of breeding pairs from the species Bearded vultures, Imperial eagles, Black vultures, Egyptian vultures and Griffon vultures, Lesser Kestrel.
- forming of pairs from other more common species with educational purpose and acquiring more experience in breeding and keeping of juvenile birds in aviaries.