European souslik returns to nature parks

In June 2017, experts from the Science for Nature Foundation and the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research conducted a study of the  European souslik (Spermophilus citellus) in the nature parks – Vitosha, Bulgarka, Vrachanski Balkan and Sinite Kamani. In recent years there has been a reintroduction of this emblematic species that has disappeared in many upland habitats in the country. Thanks to funding from the Operational Program “Environment 2007-2014”, activities were carried out for the restoration of the European souslik, through reintroduction and support for the mountain livestock farming.

Our research has demonstrated the success of these activities by finding living colonies of the species in all of the parks. In Bulgarka Nature Park(NP) the European souslik has found a suitable habitat in the southeastern slopes of Mount Ispolin at 600 m from the place of displacement. In Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park the colony spreads to the north on the eastern slopes of the mountain in the direction of the “Lokvite” subdivision. In Vitosha NP they have occupied an area of ​​about 100 m from the site of release and in the Sinite Kamani NP a critically endangered existing colony has increased and shows vital indicators by occupying new territories about 1 km from the site of reintroduction.

The research is part of the dissertation of Maria Kacamakova (IBEI – BAS) with the scientific coordinator Dr. Yordan Koshev on “Adaptation of the European souslik (Spermophilus citellus) in translocations of the individuals in Bulgaria”.