One reason for the diminishing Imperial eagle population in Bulgaria is the decrease and disappearance of the European souslik (Spermophilus citellus) in some areas. This is one of the main trophic components of the Imperial eagles and of many other raptors, but is also a globally endangered species.
Pictute: Svetoslav Spasov
The souslik is a typical inhabitant of vast grass lands such as steppes and pastures. It prefers areas with low grass cover because it is its only way to look around and protect itself from its enemies with any efficiency. The souslik colonies disappear from the pastures which have become overgrown with grass and brush and where no traditional livestock grazing occurs. This is the reason why the Imperial eagle conservation measures involve souslik conservation measures as well. The most important such measures are:
• Creation of three sheep farms during the project in order to maintain pastures with sousliks. The reduced number of livestock has lead to overgrowing and gradual disappearance of pastures inhabited by these rodents.
• Support for local farmers in applying agro-environmental measures for proper pasture management.
• Purchasing of pastures with souslik colonies and lands with Imperial eagle nests to ensure their protection.