WWF expedition discovers new pigmy cormorant colony on the Danube
Until recently on the Bulgarian coast there was only one known bird colony, that on lake Srebarna. But the expedition discovered three new coastal bird colonies – in Ostrovsko Marsh and in the protected area Kalimok Marsh next to Tutrakan. The predominant species in the bird colony in Kalimok Marsh is the threatened pygmy cormorant. The experts counted more than 300 pairs of birds. The number of pygmy cormorants have doubled in Bulgaria over the last four years.
But at the same time the bird colonies of nesting birds on the islands of Vardim and Mishka have dramatically decreased, some colonies having disappeared altogether. The main reason for this dramatic fall is the disturbance of birds by foresters and fishermen.
WWF carried out a similar census in 2006. Data comparison shows that the total number of bird colonies on Danube islands has been preserved at 10. One Bulgarian colony – on the island next to Srebarna bird sanctuary – has disappeared, but a new colony was formed on a Romanian island. A total of 3600 pairs of birds were counted along the Bulgarian stretch of the Danube. In 2006 there were 3900.
The census was carried out by one team travelling on water and two teams travelling on the ground. Nine experts took part in the expedition, including WWF biologists and scientists working for the Bulgarian Academy of Science.
Over 80% of the birds feed predominantly on the territory of Romania. This is a strong indication that trans-boundary efforts are needed in order to protect bird populations along the common stretch of Danube.
This expedition is part of the Green Borders project financed by LIFE, the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU. The main purpose of this trans-boundary project is the preservation of the pigmy cormorant and the ferruginous duck along the common section of the Danube in Bulgaria and Romania.
10 years ago WWF was instrumental in establishing the Lower Danube Green Corridor, an initiative supported by the Bulgarian, Romanian, Moldovan and Ukrainian governments. The Lower Danube Green Corridor Declaration commit the four countries to preserve a total of 935,000 ha, including enhanced protection for 775,000 ha of existing protected areas, and new protection for another 160,000 ha, and to restore 224,000 ha of former wetland areas.
As a result of the Lower Danube Green Corridor agreement Bulgaria has restored a number of wetlands along the Bulgarian stretch of the river and has proclaimed seven new protected areas. Among the new protected areas are Persina Nature Park next to the town of Belene and the protected area of Kalimok-Brushlen, where the new bird colonies were observed.