Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna

Europaen Ground Squirrel Re-introduction in Kotel Mountain

The European Ground Squirrel (Suslik) (Spermophilus citellus) is a Globally threatened species (IUCN Red List), which has faced a rapid decline in population in XX century. It is considered in Bulgaria as a vital part of Imperial Eagle diet and its conservation is directly linked to Imperial eagle support action. In Kotel Mountain the species disappeared in 1990-ies due to a habitat degradation based on lack of grazing.

In 2000 FWFF has started a livestock management programme and two sheep farms were established in Kotel Mountain. The area of Urushki Skaly was managed through an optimal grazing of livetsiock thus being prepared and restored as a suitable habitat for Susliks.

In 2011 the first 57 susliks were translocated from the area of Sliven to the area of Urushki Skaly near Kotel and have being released in specially digged holes in the ground.

In the spring of 2012 FWFF team has discovered there were Susliks that have succesfully overwintered in the area. Later, even the first reproduction was noticed. This encouraged our team and in July 2012 another group of 56 Suslicks was released in the same area in a neighbouring plot.

We are grateful to our colleagues from Green Balkans for the logistics and methodology support they have provided us in the action.

An unvaluable expertise was received also by Vladimir Stefanov, Biology Faculty of Sofia University.

Susliks are cheked for their maturity and sex  Digging holes as new homes for the susliks  Releasing suslik in a prepared hole