Species conservation

Pygmy cormorant

The Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) is included in the Red List of the World Conservation Union (IUCN Red List).
During the winter period some 20% of the European population of this species winters in Bulgaria.
Birds form roosting concentrations at the same places every night – these are the so called roosting sites – trees in river beds. The security of these sites and the lack of disturbance are of key significance for the survival of the Pygmy Cormorants. Disturbance and poaching shooting often chase Pygmy Cormorants away. While looking for a new suitable place birds lose a lot of energy and often die of exhaustion.
Poachers shoot at birds either through sheer ignorance or quite intentionally (especially near fish-breeding farms, where birds sometimes feed). Destruction of natural riparian forests and habitats is another serious threat to the existence of this species.

What we do
- monitor the numbers of birds at the known roosting sites in the interior of the country during the wintering period, which gives a good idea of the number of wintering birds in Bulgaria;
- guard the roosting sites, as this is done with the active involvement of volunteers and aims at preventing disturbance and shooting at birds at their roosting sites; this keeps the birds undisturbed, which is of crucial significance for successful wintering;
- develop an Action Plan to identify the threats to the species and provide for specific measures to reduce these threats;
- designate new protected areas – our goal is to secure institutional protection of the roosting sites;
- implement information and education activities – placing of signboards; marking of roosting sites; presentations; working with students, hunting and fishing societies, and the public.

Results
- Bulgaria’s first detailed Action Plan for the conservation of this globally threatened species has been developed as a result of 20 years’ population
- Five areas have been identified, as the whole information needed for their designation as protected sites has been prepared;
-The protected Sites “Pygmy Cormorant Roosting Site – Dimitrovgrad” and “Pygmy Cormorant Roosting Site – Plovdiv” have been designated as proposed by Green Balkans;
- More than 200 man-days of voluntary efforts are contributed every winter to guard the wintering concentrations of Pygmy Cormorants.

How you can help
- By participating in the guarding and monitoring of the Pygmy Cormorant roosting sites (near Plovdiv, etc.);
- By joining the midwinter census of waterfowl species;
- By taking part in the information and awareness raising activities (presentations, dissemination of information materials, placing of sign-boards);
- By getting involved in other activities for the conservation of this species (marking of protected areas, etc.);
- By making a donation for the conservation of this species in Bulgaria. Find out more about how you can make a donation.

Our activities related to the conservation of the Pygmy Cormorant are implemented thanks to the dedication of our volunteers!