Our travels in Bulgaria last fall resulted in Jim and I both falling in love with that country and the people who inhabit it. We were pleased to spend time with brothers Atila and Sider Sedefchev, some of the most interesting and fun people we encountered on the trip. They have a working farm that breeds and conserves native livestock and their native livestock protection dog, the Karakachan. These men live their lives devoted to the notion that native species should be conserved, and that in order to have native livestock in their proper form, they must live in association with native large carnivores, and thus must have the livestock protection dogs that were bred to challenge and protect against attacks by those carnivores. The system is not complete if any component is missing, according to these two.
Sider’s wife is a wolf biologist, and the family founded and operate the “Large Carnivore Education Center” on the grounds of the farm. The center also houses two captive European wolves, and a European brown bear. They teach the public about the need for co-existence. If that weren’t enough, both the brothers are wonderful artists. The pieces directly above and below are oil on canvas pieces created by Atila, while the final piece on this page is “She-Dragon loves a shepherd” by Sider. My photos are taken from brochures, and don’t do their work justice.
If any readers are tempted to travel to Bulgaria, a visit to the Large Carnivore Education Center is well worth the trip. High on a mountain, amid the habitat of animals wild and domestic, it’s a fabulous place of learning. It would be a natural place to host international conferences about carnivores as well.