NGO 'Wild Rodopi' comprises a small team dedicated to conserving the wildlife and rural heritage of the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains through scientific research and outreach projects. United by our passion and determination to preserve the unique biodiversity of the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, each of us have own our particular skills and areas of focus.
Founder and Research Director of NGO 'Wild Rodopi', Julian is a member of the International Association for Bear Research and Management, and is undertaking a long-term study into the ecology and behaviour of brown bears in the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains using a combination of camera trapping, traditional non-invasive sign surveys and tracking methods, as well as ethnoecological fieldwork. Julian is also interested in the ecology and coexistence of the other mammals inhabiting the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, in particular other members of the carnivore guild and their prey. He also undertakes herpetological and ornithological surveys, as well as monitoring the altitudinal distribution of butterflies and orchids in the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains in response to climate change.
With a long background involvement in responsible tourism, Siya is currently working towards completing a PhD at Sofia University 'St. Kliment Ohridski'. Her main area of interest is the impact of climate change on the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, and in particular whether the region's ski-tourism industry can be persuaded to adapt and adopt a future that is more focused on promoting and protecting the natural and cultural heritage of the region. Siya is passionate about making the tourist industry in the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains more sustainable, so that it benefits not only the local people, but also preserves the unique biodversity of the region.
Mihaela graduated from the Department of Botany at Sofia University 'Kliment Ohridski' and subsequently worked for several years at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. Her enthusiasm for and knowledge of the Bulgarian flora, has made her a sought after and popular leader on the botanic tours offered by several ecotourism companies in Bulgaria. She is author of the highly acclaimed book Orchids of the Rodopi Mountains published by NGO 'Wild Rodopi' to help promote and preserve the exceptional orchid diversity of the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains. As well as being actively involved in various botainc projects including the Festival of Wild Flowers held annually in the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, Mihaela also leads and initiates many educational events aimed at inspiring local children to appreciate and protect the flora and fauna of the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains.
Dr. Svetoslava Toncheva
Svetoslava is an environmental anthropologist undertaking research into the issues surrounding relations between humans and the environment, environmental governance and nature conservation. In particular, she is interested in human-wildlife interactions, with a special focus on human-bear cohabitation in the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains. Through her research, Svetoslava aims to contribute to the current 'convivial conservation' initiative that attempts to go beyond the 'Anthropocene' and its anthropocentrism, and which embraces the differences between humans and non-humans in research, practice and policy. More information about her research interests and publications can be read at Svetoslava's own website Natureinmind.
With her passion for nature and exploring the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains on foot, Neli is an enthusiastic field researcher, who loves nothing better than being out in the mountains searching for and recording rare flora and fauna. With a special interest in birds and orchids, it was Neli's keen eyes that discovered an important new location for Lady's Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) in the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, the most south-eastern outpost for the species in Europe. Over the years, Neli has discovered new populations and localities for several other rare orchids, as well as recorded new distributional records for a variety of other wildlife species.