Rupicapra rupicapra (Linnaeus, 1789)
Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered subspecies EN [A4acde+C2a(i) + D1], BDA-II, IV; International: BeC-III, HD-II, IV.
General distribution. The species is a glacial relict with 7 subspecies in the Alps, the Carpatians, the Caucasus Mountains, Asia Minor and the Balkan peninsula. Inhabiting Bulgaria is Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica Bolkay, 1925, distributed in some higher mountains in the Balkans (without Croatia).
Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. In the past: in the Balkan range, Sredna gora, Vitosha and the Rilo-Rhodope massif . From the end of the 19th century to the 1930s it declined in a threatening manner, disappearing from Sredna gora and Vitosha; at the end of the period the numbers were 1 000 individuals , from 1965 to 1984 – 1 500 individuals at the average. For 1985-1994, predominant is the opinion about numbers like 1 600 – 1 800 individuals [1, 3, Bulgarian Forestries Questionnaire – 1989, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]; in 1997-2000 the numbers were only 1 000 – 1 100 individuals [10, 11, 12, 13], and until 2005 they rose to 1 600 – 1 800 individuals: the Central Balkan range – 200-220, Rila – 450-500, Pirin – 200, the Western Rhodopes – 750-850 individuals [9, 12, 14,15, taxations in national parks]. The density on the area inhabited in Bulgaria is 1 – 2 individuals/ 100 ha at the average. In Rila – 4.8 individuals [P. Genov – unpubl.]
Habitats. Steep rocky slopes and massifs in the forests and the high mountainous forest-free zone.
Biology. The mating season in the Balkan range is in October – November, in Pirin from November to the middle of December [3, 16]. Most females start to breed in the third year, and males in the fourth and fifth year. Pregnancy lasts for 160-175 days; most often there is one young. In the summer and the early autumn, the herds of the females reach 40-50 individuals . It feeds during the day .
Similar species. None.
Negative factors. Hybridization with animals of the nominal subspecies imported in 1977-8 in the Rhodopes [1, 15, 17]; the recent population forming in Vitosha from the Rhodopes is also probably hybrid. Isolation of the subpopulatons. Strong poaching impact. Decrease of the inhabited territory. Urbanization, disturbance by tourism and the packs of dogs gone wild.
Conservation measures taken. The first measures are dated back to the end of the 19th century. A protected species as of 2007, 60 % of the population inhabits the national parks Pirin, Central Balkan and Rila, the Rila Monastery Natural Park and reserves in the Western Rhodopes. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria as an endangered species. Conservation plans [7, 15].
Conservation measures needed. Urgent investigation of the gene fund of the subspecies and the consequences of hybridization. Measures for restriction of the hybridization. Preparation of an international plan for the preservation of the subspecies. Inclusion of the subspecies in the Red List of IUCN.
References. 1. Spiridonov, 1985. 2. Hristovich, 1939. 3. Tiufekchiev, 1978. 4. Spiridonov, Spassov, 1998. 5. Spiridonov, Genov, 1997. 6. Spassov et al.., 2000a. 7. Gunchev, 2001. 8. Andreev, Zlatanova, 2003. 9. Genov et al., 2003. 10. Spassov et al.., 2000b. 11. Spiridonov, 2003. 12. Mirchev, Andonov, 2003. 13. Dutsov, 2003. 14. Spassov, Spiridonov, 2006. 15. Valchev et al., 2005. 16. Gunchev, 1980. 17. Genov, Massei, 1989.
Authors: Geko Spiridonov, Nikolai Spassov, Petar Genov