MoEW refuses to admit the violations in the Devetashkata Cave. EC and international institutions will get involved

MoEW refuses to admit the violations in the Devetashkata Cave. EC and international institutions will get involved

The statement of Mr. Stoev was appealed by the experts of the Bat Research and Protection Centre at the National Natural History Museum – BAS and the nature conservationalists from Green Balkans who presented the documented facts on disturbance and violations which took place in the cave.

Despite the refusal of the Ministry to enforce the nature conservation legislation of the country and acknowledge the problem, the case raised significant international attention.

Letters calling for urgent measures were sent to the Ministry of Environment and Waters by the following organizations:
- BatLife Europe
- Bat Conservation Trust
- International Federation on Speleology
- Federation of Speleology – Lithuania
- Scientists on sensor ecology from the Max Plank University in Germany
- CEEweb for biodiversity (uniting 70 non-government organizations from Central and Eastern Europe, working on biodiversity conservation).

Here are some quotes from the letters:

Andreas Streit, executive director of EUROBATS/UNDP „I would like to bring to your attention that this cave is one of the three most important and biggest hibernation sites in Europe, in particular for several highly vulnerable bat species. The reports now received about the activities related to a movie production are most alarming and indicate that serious disturbance and damage has already occurred.“

Dr. ir. Jasja Dekker, Vice-president of Batlife Europe "The Devetashkata peshtera Cave symbolises one of the much appreciated values of Bulgaria, that draw so many 'green 'tourists: it's rich and unspoiled nature. It must be those values of Bulgaria, that attracted the production team of this movie to Bulgaria, so it is a great shame that it is this production that now threatens those values".

Juan Carlos Lopez, International Federation on Speleology, Ioana Meleg, European Commission on cave protection „With our deepest respect for Your Excellency, we kindly request your crucial intervention in order to take appropriate conservation measures, to restrict the future access to the cave, allowing only research and exploration activities. A management plan including a risk assessment should also be prepared in order to restore the cave environment.“

Klára Hajdu, General Secretary of the CeeWeb for Biodiversity „We consider the case very concerning due to the major significance of the cave, its international conservation status and the fact that such activities have been allowed by the Bulgarian institutions.“

Björn Siemers, Department on sensor ecology at Max Plank, Germany „The Bulgarian bat fauna is a precious natural treasure, protected by Bulgarian and European laws. Given this legal protection for the bats, I am concerned by the apparently huge and strongly disturbing building activity and the action filming inside and around the cave.

Erikas Laiconas, President of the Lithuanian Federation on Speleology „That winter happening in the Cave is inscrutable action against bat colony and must be speedily stopped. We, all Lithuanian cavers, heartily support our colleagues Bulgarian cavers in ypur struggle of high importance for the saving of bats population in Devetashkata Cave.“.

The European Commission has also launched an official pilot investigation.
Within ten weeks (by the end of February), MoEW should answer the Commission on the violations of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive (in terms of lack of the obligatory Compatibility Assessment for the filming activities) and Article 12 (in terms of lack of measures for protecting the species of Annex 4 of the same Directive).
After reading through the entire documentation on the case, the Commission will take the response of MoEW into consideration and assess if the European Directives have been violated. If it becomes clear that the Ministry has stayed inactive or the undertaken measures have been ineffective, the state can be sentenced to pay huge fees by the European Council.

For more information, please contact:
Boyan Petrov - Bat Research and Protection Centre – NHM – BAS; mobile phone: + 359 893322113, e-mail:
Alexey Zhalov – Bulgarian Federation on Speleology: phone: +359 887 745207,e-mail:
Еlena Stoeva – Green Balkans NGO,  phone: +359 887574699, e-mail:

The letter sent by UNEP EUROBATS 375,64 KB b (pdf) download
The letter sent by CEEweb for Biodiversity 66,88 KB b (pdf) download
The letter, sent by Dr.Siemers from the Max Plank University 74,01 KB b (pdf) download
The letter sent by BatLife Europe 105,54 KB b (pdf) download
The letter sent by the Lithuanian Federation on Speleology 715,78 KB b (pdf) download
The letter, sent by the European Federation on Speleology 126,13 KB b (pdf) download