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Two Bonelli’s eagles “flied” to Spain to join a breeding program

Two Bonelli’s eagles “flied” to Spain to join a breeding program

06.11.2018
On 05.11.2018 representatives of Green Balkans, Customs agency and the Ministry of environment and water symbolically said farewell to the two Bonelli’s eagles, which will join a breeding program in Spain. The event was held in the region of Sofia airport in front of Custons Agencies Sofia and the eagles will fly to Bulgaria with flight for Madrid on Tuesday.

In the past years, Bulgarian customs have confiscated multiple protected species of animals and the case of the Bonelli’s eagles is just a single case. It is a symbolic case, because it reveals that the good contribution between the institutions and the NGOs gives results – not only the violation is revealed, but also the animals are given the chance to survive and to be included in programs saving their species, said the spokesman of Customs agencies Tamara Vlaikova.

The two raptors became subject to close scrutiny of the institutions and Green Balkans in the end of March 2010 (27/03/2010), when in the region of Border check-point at Danube Bridge Vidin-Calafat border officers conduct check of a car travelling from Bulgaria to Romania and Eastern Europe. Two birds from the rare species Bonelli’s eagle were discovered in the car with fake documents.

The birds are captured by the border police officers and are transported to the Green Balkans’ Wildlife rehabilitation and breeding center. Consequently, during police raid for another charge against the same person, in the house of the violator, the police discovers fake certificates for export of birds, seals of the Ministry of environment and water and of the Federal Ministry of agriculture, forestry, environment and water of Ausatria. After the long court battle, the smuggler receives a suspended sentence and the eagles are confiscated in favor of the state.

Since there is no population of this species in Bulgaria, the team of Green Balkans connected to the environmentalists from GREFA, who work on a program for reintroduction of the species in Spain. After they arrive in Spain the two birds will become part from breeding pairs and the offspring will fly free in the sky. Thus we aim to repair the damage done by poaching at least partially.
The origin of the birds is still unclear, as they have fake Ukrainian documents. The species occurs mainly in Southern Europe as well as in Africa, the Near and Middle East, as the European population numbers 920-1100 pairs.


“Huge thanks to the customs officer Vyachislav Rangelov, who found the eagles and without whom this event wouldn’t have happened”, said Ivailo Klisurov – manager of the Green Balkans’ Wildlife rehabilitation and breeding center.


Rangelov, who is already retired, was awarded in 2014 for prevention of that and similar crimes against nature with the award “I protect forests and eagles of Bulgaria”.

About the Bonelli’s eagles

Bonelli’s eagles have a body size of approximately 68 cm and wingspan 165 cm. In Bulgarian they are called Hawk eagles, as they fly with quick wing waves, similar to a hawk. The plumage of the adults is greyish-brown with black sharp stripes on the back, whitish with contrast brown stripes downwards, the tail is long with black band on the tip. The juveniles are dark brown from above and ruddle or brown from below. The conservation status of the birds in Bulgaria is critically endangered. Singular temporal nesting sites were found in Southern Bulgaria. The species is enlisted in the Bulgarian biodiversity act, Annex 2 of the CITES international convention and Annex A of the EU Regulation 338/97, concerning the application of CITES convention within the EU.