Toma Belev’s racketeering of private hunting farms turned into a hunt of hunters
Toma Belev’s racketeering of private hunting farms turned into a hunt of hunters


Instead of applying regulations and control, the green activist is on his way to ban hunting in private hunting farms


Last week Toma Belev distributed in the social network monstrous photos of killed pregnant wild goats in Pirin. This was followed by angry comments, while the director of Pirin National Park seised the Prosecutor’s Offices in Sandanski and Razlog. The Directorate of Pirin National Park, on its own initiative, immediately started an internal investigation.

The wild goat is a protected species. The killing of such an animal is punished with up to 5 years in prison according to the Penal Code. There are poachers in Bulgaria, but there also are significant gaps in our legislation and the enforcement of control on hunting. Hunting that is taking place primarily in private hunting farms adjacent to the nature parks.

And this is where Toma Belev comes in. Regarding the distributed photos, Toma Belev stated the following in his interview with the Bulgarian National Radio: “My proposal is to prohibit the private intensive hunting farms bordering our national parks. They are everywhere. To me, this is a serious problem.”


Hunting prohibition or more ways to “twist hands”


With this “proposal” Belev basically wants to ban hunting, because it is practiced in these hunting farms. We are not talking about the uncontrollable poachers. For years now the media have been writing and talking about the racketeering practiced by the “green” Toma Belev against private hunting farms which are required by law to breed a particular number of wild animals and the quota for shooting is determined by… Toma Belev. Instead of proposing better regulations and control against poachers, he has decided to ban hunting altogether.


Toma Belev wants CSKA to leave the Army – Trud


We must remind the readers that in 2003 Belev created a structure parallel to state structures with the aim to put pressure on nature parks. Seventeen years ago, with his active participation, eight state directorates of nature parks registered a non-governmental organization - Association of Parks in Bulgaria (APB) – without the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. This is a duplicate structure of the main activity of the state park administrations working for a private interest. The creation of APB was initiated by Toma Belev who was then the director of Vitosha Nature Park. After the establishment of the APB Belev was selected as its chair. Since then he is the one determining what wild animals will be bred in the parks and how many can be hunted in the adjacent hunting farms.

Under the sign of nature conservancy, through the association Belev is virtually duplicating the functions of the directorates of the state parks at almost 100%, because the APB is registered for commercial activities in the protected areas including tourism and agriculture, marketing, profit generation and submission of project proposals in international programmes. Additionally, it can deal with commercial policy and development of strategies and products. APB has the right to carry out consultancy and participate in competitions.


Nature Parks – Belev’s Bat


Here is the place to quote a publication of Trud revealing the mechanisms for control and answering the question why Belev needs APB

„The reason for this persistence is simple: money is at stake. In the first years, when the Association was managed by the directors of the state parks, it started buying property. According to information from the Property Register APB has acquired hundreds of hectares in the regions of Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Razgrad and Sliven.

The properties include pastures, lawns and private agricultural land. The reply to the inquiry sent to the Registry Agency on the account of APB runs for more than 20 pages.

The business ventures of the “ecologist” are not limited to the activity of APB and the management of Vitosha Nature Park. From 2000 to 2014 he was a member of the Management Board of another private “environmental” organization, Green Balkans, that bought a little bit more than 100 ha of land in coastal Dobrudzha.

Therefore, for a period of time Belev worked as a civil servant (director of Vitosha Nature Park) and as a member of two private NGOs. Meanwhile, as a physical person, he participated in many projects. An example is his cooperation in the preparation of the Management Plan for Pirin National Park, Balgarka Nature Park and many others. These facts are a clear proof for a conflict of interest. “

“Meanwhile APB is part of the coalition For Nature in Bulgaria. For the past years there are 1100 case files on appeals of the “ecological” union against state, municipal and private investments. APB is responsible for 164 of them.

“This has delayed or stopped huge projects of national importance such as Belene Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), Unit No. 7 of Kozloduy NPP, the Burgas–Alexandroupoli pipeline, the South Stream pipeline, the waste treatment plant near Sofia, the third metro ray, the Struma Motorway and the tunnel under Shipka,” wrote Trud



Fake News for Belev’s Purposes


These are the mechanisms for racketeering or, as it is popular to say in Bulgaria, “nature conservation”. In fact, in its 13 years under the management of Toma Belev, Vitosha Nature Park sank into ruin. The “greens” appropriated millions for project for protection of the biodiversity, opposing any attempt of revival of the mountain as a tourist destination for the citizens of Sofia. The renovation of hotels, cabins, cable-cars, ski slopes, paths and shelters was suspended.

Now, it seems, it’s Pirin Nature Park’s turn. The killed mountain goats are used as an occasion to establish control. In fact, Toma Belev’s statement that the photos were taken in Pirin National Park was called into question by Eco News. One of the reasons is that at the alleged time of the crime the area described next to the photos – Kamenitsa in Pirin – was covered by almost a meter of snow, while on the photos distributed by Toma Belev there is green grass.

There is also another reason to doubt the authenticity of the photos. Female goats fall in oestrus in November and December. The pregnancy lasts 25 – 27 weeks, i.e. around 6 months. Currently they are in embryonic pregnancy and there is no way to have kids as the goats give birth in April and May. This has apparently evaded the attention of the forestry engineer Toma Belev.

Nevertheless, Belev made the following statement for the Bulgarian National Radio: “The photos I posted are real – from the area of Sandanski – Kresna. I have no guarantee whether they are in the park or on its border. My source refused to give me more precise coordinates and details on the people, but I am sure this has happened on the territory of the park… Citizens from Sandanski who have seen the photos called me and said that the faces on the photos look familiar to the locals. Therefore, we are talking about a real problem. I have not yet received a call from the Prosecutor’s Office; they don’t act that quick.”

His statement sounds very much like information of the one-woman-told-me type, but this is a convenient way to racketeer the hunting farms.



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