The Protected Area of Kalimok-Brushlen (Калимок-Бръшлен)

About 30 miles east from the Bulgarian town Ruse (Русе), you find the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area (Калимок-Бръшлен) with several endangered animal and plant species. Bulgarian ethnologist Ivelina Eftimova (PhD) from Shumen University explores the impact of the channel and the dike on local flora and fauna, which were built during the socialist period. But these constructions also had an impact on the resources for the locals and caused ongoing challenges for the inhabitants of the Protected Area.

In this blogpost, we will get an insight into Ivelina’s fieldwork!

Location of the Protected Area of Kalimok-Brushlen:

Location of the Protected Area, Google Maps Cutout, 09.11.2021, https://www.google.de/maps/place/%D0%9A%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%BE%D0%BA-%D0%91%D1%80%D1%8A%D1%88%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD/@44.1968571,26.3217904,8.5z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x40a58a67f395c66b:0x4eda59530fcee61b!2sSchumen,+Bulgarien!3b1!8m2!3d43.2712398!4d26.9361286!3m4!1s0x40ae385deb2472dd:0xf55658fd8734fbea!8m2!3d44.0194262!4d26.4313251.

Now that we know where the protected area of Kalimok-Brushlen is located at, meet Ivelina Eftimova, PhD:

Photo by Victor Vasilev.

This cable-stayed bridge that Ivelina is standing on was made by ornithologists as an important part of their access to birds that they observe and regularly bird ringing. The bridge was built over the drainage channel, which is located next to the biological experimental base Kalimok at the Institute of Zoology of BAS. The area is a significant habitat for Invertebrates (500), Fish (67), Amphibians (10), Reptiles (11), Birds (207), and Mammals (46). Among them, there is a significant number of rare protected species.

One of the activities of the ornithologists in Kalimok is the cultivation and release into the natural environment of Tadorna ferruginea – endangered bird species:

Photo by Avian Blood Parasites Research Group, Bulgaria (https://avibloodparasitesrg.blogspot.com/2017/06/tadornaferruginea-tadorna-ferruginea.html).

Last year, ornithologists along with local volunteers built a pelican nesting platform. Fortunately, pelicans that raise their young there appear quickly:

Photo by Yordan Kutsarov.

The next picture you see is a channel that connects the sluices to the interior of the Kalimok swamp. Тhe possibility of controlled release and drainage of water has its advantages, as well as disadvantages. Among the biggest advantages is the ability to maintain the swamp and the vegetation in it, which is important for birds and animals in the area.

Photo by Ivelina Eftimova.

Under certain rules, fishing in the Danube River around the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area is permitted and those rules are observed by the local fishermen.

Photo by Ivelina Eftimova.

But it is not all about fauna in the protected area of Kalimok-Brushlen. The diversity of the region is also present in the flora. They are established Algae (109), Moss (10), Fungi/macromycetes (16), Medicinal plants (179), Higher plants (380), and Plants with conservation status (16). The object of special care is, for example, the White Water Lily (Nymphaeaceae).

Photo by Yordan Kutsarov.

Here, you can see a picture of the Poplar plantation located between the Danube River and the dike. The local Forestry department in Tutrakan is responsible for their planting, maintenance, cutting and replanting.

Photo by Ivelina Eftimova.

A crucial part of Ivelina’s work is interviewing local inhabitants as well as experts. Local expert Kristiyan Yakimov talks about all the problems that affect the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area and the possibilities for their solution:

In the photo: Ivelina Eftimova and Kristiyan Yakimov. Photo by Kalina Simeonova.

The meeting of Ivelina and Stefan Dorondel with Tsonka Hristova, director of the Rusenski Lom Nature Park, proved to be very useful in clarifying the problems related to the maintenance of the sluices. As there is no possibility for continuous control and monitoring, those who benefit from stopping flood (controlled, of course), such as farmers, do so on their own initiative (absolutely illegal).

Photo by Victor Vasilev.

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, the dike was built in the socialist period. Ivelina interviewed the locals at the village of Nova Cherna who witnessed the construction of the dike in the 1950s and the transformation of the territory from a swamp into agricultural land, and fishponds during the socialist period. They talked about their desolation and an attempt to become private agricultural areas and their subsequent transformation, as a natural wetland and protected area.

In the photo: Ivelina Eftimova and few local people from Nova Cherna village. Photo by Galina Stoyanova.

The places and types of plants for cultivation are explicitly established. Unfortunately, the rules are not always followed. One of the crops allowed for growing in the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area is Lavender. It might not surprise you that it is also preferred as a photograph background because of the beautiful color for welcoming the sunrise – a part of the rituals performed on the Midsummer’s Day.

Photo by Yanka Eneva.

We want to thank Ivelina Eftimova for providing us with a great insight of her work in Kalimok-Brushlen and are looking forward to hear more about her work!