Restoration of long-distance transhumance

1-8 May 2010

Eastern Bulgaria

Although the Transhumance is of high importance for the maintenance of grassland habitats and culture conservation, the annual migration of stock from high pasture to low pasture and back has almost disappeared in Bulgaria. That’s the reason why FWFF-Bulgaria (Fund of the Wild Fauna and Flora) in partnership with RebelFarmer decided to support the restoration of one of the ancient long-distance transhumance route in Bulgaria.

  • Join a shepherd family, for the fourth edition, as they take a couple of days to move their stock of 250-400 Karakachan sheep between their summer base in the Kotel Mountains up to the Balkan summer highland pastures.
  • Walking with the sheep over the slopes of the Stara Planina Mountains (about 1100m)
  • With an experienced shepherd family and the director of the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna’s organisation
  • Protective Karakachan dogs against a potential bear / wolf attack
  • Main luggage pieces (sleeping bags, tents, mats, food) carried by horses/mules
  • Catering organised
  • Celebration of the St. George’s shepherds’ festival in Kotel
  • Lodging in tents and accommodation
  • Return transport to Kotel or Sliven to take the bus/train back to Sofia or Burgas.

Overall goals of the trip:

  • A better knowledge of the pastoral activity in terms of territory and landscape management, biodiversity conservation, valorisation of the cultural and building patrimony.
  • The discovery of shepherd’s work: breeding techniques, reading the landscape, the dog and the herd.
  • The understanding of the highest importance of transhumance for the local community that is facing economic problems in the mountains. And the possible support of this tradition towards representatives of the minorities in Bulgaria (Karakachan, Roma and Turkish) that are benefiting by participating in shelter’s building, milking, lamb breeding, etc.
  • A better understanding of the pastoralism/predator problem
  • The new system of compensation given to farmers for damages caused by predators is believed to be a way to reduce the illegal use of poisoned baits towards large predators such as wolfs and bears
  • The understanding of the interest of rehabilitating and conserving large carnivores but also autochthone
  • endangered breeds such as the Karakachan Sheep.
  • The discovery of traditional transhumance “paths” passing through the Stara Planina Mountains
  • To make traveling photos promoting the Transhumance towards local shepherds / herders / farmer, and towards national and international ecotourists.

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