Elena Kmetova '10 (Bulgaria)

Elena Kmetova '10 (Bulgaria)

My name is Elena Kmetova and I am a MESPOM Batch 4 recent graduate, who could also be found dwelling the Environmental Systems Laboratory for three long semesters.

Despite providing excellent career opportunities, I have to admit that the “Policy and Management” part of the MESPOM programme was more of a challenge for my purely scientific background and interests. For all of you who share my interest in biodiversity conservation and field work, I would like to shed a ray of optimism, that there are actually numerous opportunities to utilize the newly-acquired MESPOM managerial skills within a purely conservation field.

I have been employed as a Project Manager of a five-year EU-funded project “Recovery of the Populations of Large European Vultures in Bulgaria” LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 run by the Bulgarian Green Balkans Federation of Nature Conservation NGOs (www.greenbalkans.org/birdsofprey/life)

Maybe the most interesting and tangible part of the project involves the import of some 150-200 Griffon Vultures from Spain, their distribution in four target aviaries in the Balkan Mountains for acclimatization and further release into the wild. We have already released 25 birds and Mr. Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner on Environment at EC even sent us a video-message to congratulate us on our efforts. The vultures are all wing-tagged and some of them are carrying VHF radio-transmitters as well as a prototype GPS/GSM transmitter that allows the tracking of the bird from my very office!

As a project coordinator I am in charge of the communication with the rest of the partners, the overall project coordination and timely implementation of the project activities, organizing the publicity and relevant events and I have to admit it often feels like herding a handful of insects. Despite that, I still find odd days to visit the aviaries and the vultures on site and will take a major role in the interpretation of the data for the birds’ dispersal and adaptation.

The MESPOM skills turned out of extreme practical use when communicating with national and international authorities, working with colleagues from various nationalities and backgrounds, managing my time and juggling with all the tasks and deadlines.

Wishing you best of luck with your studies and careers, dear friends and I do hope we would stay in touch.

Anyone interested in the progress of the project or the well-being of the birds is more than welcome to contact me at: ekmetova@greenbalkans.org