Species conservation

Red-breasted goose

The Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) is a globally threatened species. As of 2003-2006, its population is estimated at not more than 38,000 birds.
Almost 80% of the Red-breasted Geese winter in the territory of Bulgaria – mainly in the region of Coastal Dobrudja (Durankulak and Shabla lakes), as well as the Burgas wetlands and the major reservoirs in the Upper Thracian Lowland (the dams of Ovcharitsa, Rozov Kladenets, Pyasachnik, etc.).
Usually, birds roost in the reservoirs and in the daytime fly to the surrounding areas to feed, as in most cases they use various wheat crops. Although hunting of this globally threatened species is absolutely prohibited by the Bulgarian legislation, Red-breasted Geese often fall victims to unscrupulous hunters. In the early morning hours, when geese leave the reservoirs in mixed flocks, besides hunting species, such as Grey lag Geese and White-fronted Geese, lots of Red-breasted Geese are also shot. The usual pretext is bad visibility or wrong recognition of the species (although hunting in bad visibility is prohibited; moreover, hunters have to take an exam to prove that they can recognize and distinguish hunting and protected species). In addition, during the day birds are also persecuted and shot at the feeding sites. Besides direct shooting, permanent disturbance and persecution also cause death of numerous birds, as they cannot feed properly. These unfavorable factors are particularly aggravated in cold and snowy winters, in foggy weather and snowstorms, when the visibility is poor and the food is hard to find.
In this critical period, the big flocks of Red-breasted Geese need a safe place to roost and feed.


What we do
Our work related to the Red-breasted Goose is focused mainly on the conservation of the species and its wintering habitats – foraging and roosting areas. We aim at establishing a “safety zone”, where birds can roost and feed undisturbed, and where no poaching is possible. In this regard, an innovative approach has been undertaken – namely, purchase of lands by Green Balkans, as these are areas of significance for wintering birds

Results
- More than 100 ha have been purchased in the region of Coastal Dobrudja with the financial support of EECONET Action Fund and EURONATUR, Frankfurt Zoological Society, and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, so that the species’ wintering habitats could be preserved;
- Materials and expertise needed for the treatment and recovery of Red-breasted Geese in distress have been secured as part of the activity of the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center;
- Monitoring is implemented around the reservoirs and the adjacent territories of significance for the wintering of the Red-breasted Geese;
- Various activities for prevention of poaching are realized as part of our program against poaching in wetlands;
- Poster about the Red-breasted Goose has been published and disseminated in the regions of significance for the conservation of this species.

How you can help
- By participating in the prevention of poaching and by signalizing of any cases of poaching and illegal hunting;
- By disseminating information materials related to the conservation of the Red-breasted Goose;
- By sending birds in distress to the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center in Stara Zagora;
- 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 Red-breasted Goose are implemented with the financial support ofEURONATUR  and EECONET Acton Fund.