On March 25, we will turn off the lights for an hour to raise awareness for the planet, but at the same time shine a light on Bulgaria's limited wildlife habitat. As part of the global Earth Hour campaign, WWF Bulgaria is launching an initiative to restore populations of lynx and Danube sturgeon on our lands, called "Common Home. Common Future".
One of the biggest threats to large carnivores in Bulgaria is increasing fragmentation and shrinkage of their habitats the need for habitat connectivity, which is not always within the borders of one country. To address this problem, conservationists are taking steps to designate new areas with varying degrees of protection, as nature parks and reserves currently occupy only 5% of the country's territory. In this way, they will connect the fragmented habitats and create conditions for the return of species long extinct in the country.
Lynx is a legend in the forest kingdom of Bulgaria.
Lynx was once a keystone species in these latitudes. It is thought to have been extinct from Bulgaria since 1941, when the last officially recorded Balkan lynx in the country was killed.
"In 2008, a photo trap captured a young male lynx in the Osogovo Mountains, which is considered to be real proof of the lynx's presence in Bulgaria. But it is up to us to create the conditions for its population to flourish," says Alexander Dutsov, Senior Wildlife Expert at WWF's Species Conservation Programme.
The situation with the critically endangered "Danube dinosaur" - the sturgeon - is no less worrying.The lower reaches of the river, on the border between Bulgaria and Romania, are home to the only naturally breeding sturgeon populations left in the European Union. Having survived for the last 200 million years, they now face a number of threats that block their migration routes and destroy their spawning grounds.
So this spring, the biggest global initiative dedicated to planetary conservation - Earth Hour - in Bulgaria will be marked with WWF's efforts to restore habitats. Traditionally, on the last Saturday of March, millions of people in more than 7,000 cities in 190 countries around the world will turn off the lights in their homes between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. as a sign of commitment to the planet.
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