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Media and public concerned about a stork wintering in Apriltsi

Media and public concerned about a stork wintering in Apriltsi

24.02.2011

A White Stork called Boko by the local people preferred to winter in Apriltsi instead of migrating southwards. This unusual phenomenon stirred the interest and concern of the people of Apriltsi.
The stork is named, fed, and protected by the local people worried about its fate. These worries are based on the local beliefs – namely, that the storks that do not migrate southwards get killed by the other individuals when they come back in spring. The White Stork wintering in Bulgaria drew journalists’ attention, turning into a TV star. As a result of the TV program, Green Balkans received numerous signals, asking the organization’s experts to save the bird.
In this regard, Green Balkans’ team would like to express their satisfaction with the concern of the people and the journalists about this White Stork. This bird species is not only popular for the numerous folk beliefs, but also protected according to the Bulgarian legislation (Biological Diversity Act). The overall attitude towards this bird and the efforts made by the public to help it, reveal general environmental awareness and sensitivity.
Green Balkans’ team would like to explain that although being a rare phenomenon, wintering of White and sometimes Black Storks has been often recorded in Bulgaria. Individuals wintering in various regions of Bulgaria are reported on an annual basis. The availability of food, suitable habitats, and non-disturbance secure successful wintering. In this particular case, these favorable conditions were provided by the efforts made by the people of Apriltsi. Similarly, lots of storks winter at Green Balkans’ Wildlife Rescue Center, enjoying the food and caretaking provided by the staff:
http://www.greenbalkans.org/show.php?id=1067&language=bg_BG&cat_id=35& .

Another issue that gets the local people worked up is whether Boko will be killed by the other storks in spring. This is rather a folk belief that could hardly be proven scientifically. Indeed, on their return, some of the stronger and more experienced males might attack Boko and try to chase it away from the already occupied breeding territory. This behavior, however, is neither revenge nor enmity. It is rather striving for better territory or nest that often happens with storks. Boko might fight out its right to raise offspring in Apriltsi or move to another territory. There are several possible reasons for the appearance of the stork in this mountain settlement. One of the possibilities could be that this bird did not migrate and stayed near its nest. This cannot be proven for certain, of course, because, as we all know, storks look quite the same, and individual identification is impossible without specific markers, such as ornithological rings, wing tags, etc. Another explanation could be that the bird belonged to a northern population and reached Apriltsi following the migration, as for some reason it could not continue southwards.
At this stage, Green Balkans’ experts believe that Boko should better stay in Apriltsi and wait for the spring in the wild. The discussion involving officials of Central Balkan National Park from Apriltsi, representatives of the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water (RIEW) – Pleven, the municipal ecologist and the forestry officials of the region, established that the bird was fit and safe, and there was no need to capture and transport it to Green Balkans’ Wildlife Rescue Center in Stara Zagora. The officials of the national park undertook to provide fish for the bird. The stork is subject to regular monitoring and only if it gets worse, the team will try to catch it.
The experience we have gained so far shows that although resulting from love for nature, catching and caging wild animals is not necessary. In many cases the only thing a wild animal “in distress” needs is the provision of non-disturbance or food. Often, instead of rescuing wild animals we cause damages to wildlife.
However, it is indisputable that there are even more cases when, being signalized by citizens, Green Balkans rescue numerous animals of rare and protected species, such as eagles, pelicans, storks, tortoises, etc. All these prove that there is no universal solution and every single case has to be arranged after consultations with the appropriate experts.

Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to all those who demonstrated positive attitude towards and concern about the stork’s fate.

For further information, please contact:
Gradimir Gradev, Green Balkans,
Mobile: +359 (0) 885 609 289, е-mail: ggradev@greenbalkans.org

Hristina Klisurova, Green Balkans
Wildlife Rescue Center
Mobile: +359 (0) 886 570 053, е-mail: hhristova@greenbalkans.org