The filming of the EXPENDABLES 2 in the Devetaki Cave has turned into a real disaster for its protected species!

The filming of the EXPENDABLES 2 in the Devetaki Cave has turned into a real disaster for its protected species!

On December 10th the team of the Bat Research and Protection Centre carried out a second examination in the Devetaki Cave. The aim was to collect additional data on the status of the wintering colonies (following the first visit on November 16th, which showed significantly lower numbers of the bats in the cave).

Unfortunately the expert visit confirmed the concerns which were presented to the Bulgarian authorities and public numerous times. Some two months following the start of the filming, the constant disturbance has had an extremely detrimental effect on the bat colonies.

Barely some 10 400 bats were reported in the cave (as a comparison, in the winter of 2010, the colony consisted of over 35 000 specimens, while the maximum reported number of wintering bats in the case has reached up to 60 000 specimens).

Bats are completely awake – active and exhausting their last energy storages.
Dead specimens of three species were found, apparently fallen from the ceiling and showing obvious signs of exhaust (sunken stomachs, finished subcutaneous fat, decreased overall weight, wounds).

Two of the species found dead are enlisted in the Global Red Data Book and harming them (including killing due to disturbance) is a violation persecuted by the National Criminal Code.
As the bat colonies are currently located over an underground river, it is likely that the dead individuals of protected species are times more, yet the bodies of the victims were just carried away by the running water.

Despite the fact that the Producers have carried the entire equipment and materials out of the protected area, there are still consequences of the filming activity as it has condemned a great deal of the bats of the cave to starvation.

The experts also revealed traces and marks of heavy machinery which has entered the dark side of the cave (despite the assurance of the RIEW that they have issued instructions not to allow such activities and they are maintaining the required control), traces of welding, cutting with angle grinders and other activities related to extremely high levels of noise.

In addition to that, the production has left behind the especially constructed bridge, which allows for direct and uncontrolled entrance of tens of visitors. Just a few days after restoring the access to the cave, it is already full of visitors, including students in high spirit, throwing crackers!

It is really intriguing how could the catastrophic influence of these activities on the wintering bats has been overlooked by the “constant monitoring” carried out by representatives of MoEW (as stated by Mr. Dimitar Stoev – head of Protected Areas Unit at MoEW).

Until now the Bat Research and Conservation Centre and Green Balkans have alarmed all possible Bulgarian and international institutions (Court, Prosecutor’s Office, MoEW, RIEW, Construction Supervision, etc.) for the violations allowed in the cave. The only ones who responded where however the international institutions, alarmed by the nature conservationalists - representatives of the European Commission, UNEP and EUROBATS sent official inquiries to the Bulgarian authorities. Currently, the Ministry of Environment and Waters has no official statement.

For additional information please contact:
- considering the examination in the cave – Antonia Hubancheva - Bat Research and Conservation Centre ; mobile phone: + 359 883316946
- considering the violations found out in the cave – Elena Tilova – Green Balkans – mobile phone: +359 887 574699