The first WLE postage stamp depicts a griffon vulture in Bulgaria

This year, “Wikimedians of Bulgaria” User Group participates for the second time with a local edition of the photo contest for environmentally protected territories, “Wiki Loves Earth 2016 Bulgaria“. And one of the ten winners in the national stage of the competition will be printed as an official postage stamp of the Republic of Bulgaria. This is the additional ‘surprise’ award, which the organizing team of the competition in 2016 arranged along with the planned prizes – vouchers for photographic equipment shops or bookshops, that will be provided under a project funded by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Which one of the ten photos would illustrate the postage stamp, was a decision taken by the members of the Committee of Postage Issuance under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technologies. And this choice has already been made. It is the 2nd-ranked photography in Top 10, by Emiliya Toncheva, which depicts a griffon vulture in the Valchi Dol Reserve near the small town of Madzharovo in Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria. Notably, Emiliya was the first volunteer to contribute her photos to the “Wiki Loves Earth 2016 Bulgaria” in the very first day of the contest, June, 1.

Photo credit: Emiliya Toncheva. Derivative work: Vassia Atanassova. License: CC-BY-SA 4.0. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Committee approved the young illustrator Dilyana Elshishka for designer of the postage stamp, and determined the nominal of BGN 2 (approx. EUR 1), which is the price for sending a postcard from Bulgaria to United States, for example. This stamp will be in valid use and circulation for the next three years. The attempt is to have the stamp ready around October, 1 when the local WLE organizing team is conducting the award ceremony in the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia.

The photograph selected by the Committee of Postage Stamp Issuance is special because it will stay on the very first Wikimedia-related postage stamp in Bulgaria, which also is the first one for the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest globally.

The photo is noteworthy also for touching one of the most important topics of Bulgarian environmental protection: protection of the birds of prey. In Bulgaria, all the three nesting or feeding vulture species – Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) are rare and protected species, and the Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) has been since 2007 in a re-introduction program, because of being extinct from the territory of Bulgaria. And while the griffon vulture’s population can nowadays be considered stabilized, the Egyptian vulture continues to be the most rapidly declining among all birds of prey in Europe, with more than 80% decreased population in the Balkans for the last 30 years. Poisons intended to kill agricultural pests are the main reason for the extinction of vultures, whose ecologic role is the one of the natural sanitarians of wildlife.

Author: Emiliya Toncheva. License: CC-BY-SA 4.0. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Author and translator: Vassia Atanassova

Editors: Anelia Bobeva, Nikola Kalchev, Stanislav Yordanov

From <https://blog.wikimedia.bg/2016/07/31/wle-postage-stamp/>

The international round has begun

Mount Kanchenjunga seen from Goechala. Photo by Yoghya, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

A record number of over 110.000 pictures, taken by over 13.000 uploaders in 26 participating countries and in biosphere reserves of our partner UNESCO were uploaded during this year’s national round of Wiki Loves Earth! Each of the participating communities chose their best ten pictures which represent them in the international round of the competition. Now the nine-member jury has the hard task to choose the best pictures worldwide.

The jury consist of nine members, who live all around the globe – Dietmar Bartz, Katya Zareva-Simeonova, Besnik Hamiti, Chris Woodrich, Doris Anson-Yevu, Isla Haddow-Flood, Jeevan Jose, Janno Loide, and Qunli Han. They will choose the best pictures, which represent an identified natural monument, natural park, protected area, etc., including pictures of animals taken there. All of the pictures, uploaded during Wiki Loves Earth were published under a free licence.

Lake Ohrid. Photo by Fation Plaku, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Most pictures were uploaded in India – 31.317, followed by Germany with 18.161 and Ukraine with 11.475. The highest number of uploaders was found in India with 6.318, followed by Germany with 1.108 and Pakistan with 1.098. For India this year was the second time it participated and its results have been impressive. Among the newcomers, Australia had the best results with 3.509 pictures uploaded by 595 people. The other states which participated for the first time this year were Greece, Albania, Moldova, and Kosovo.

Wiki Loves Earth 2016 completed successfully in Moldova

The winning image of the Burlănești Defile; Alex Prodan, CC-BY-SA-4.0


This year Moldova had the Wiki Loves Earth organized for the first time. During a span of one month, amateur and professional photographers from Moldova had the chance to upload their photos of natural heritage monuments of the country, in the same time contributing to the scarce free media collection of Moldovan nature online.

Socola, Șoldănești, second placed; Balan Anton, CC-BY-SA-4.0


During a month of contest, the organizers received 600 images depicting 70 natural monuments and protected areas. These are small numbers on a global scale, but decent numbers for Moldova: prior to the contest, only 7 natural monuments had illustrations on Wikimedia Commons. The uploaded files were being added to the corresponding articles immediately, making Moldova the best participating country in terms of media usage (23% of files are used in articles).

A waterfall in Saharna landscape reserve, third placed; Botnari Stefan, CC-BY-SA-4.0


The promotion efforts gathered a small amount of actual uploaders. As much as 17 people had at least one valid upload. The jury, consisting of two local professional photographers and one Wikipedian, identified the ten best ten works and announced them at the end of July.

Awarding the first and second place; Visem, CC-BY-SA-4.0


The winners and participants were invited to attend the awarding ceremony on on July 24 at the Hasdeu municipal library of Chișinău. During the meetup, attendants had the opportunity to see a mini-exposition of winning photographies, chat with some of the participants, and also ask questions about Wikipedia, specifically Wikipedia activities connected to Wikipedia in Moldova. There were voices expressing interest for an eventual possible Wiki Loves Monuments in the country.

Awarding third place; Visem, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Awarding the X-style special prize; Gikü, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Photo contest winners in Morocco

Please welcome the winning pictures of Wiki Loves Earth in Morocco!

Morocco has participated in Wiki Loves Earth 2015 and around 1700+ pictures have been uploaded under creative commons license through this event. This year we received around 3 thousand photos and it’s just great! 19 are already recognized as quality images on Wikimedia Commons and more to come.

577 participants took part in the contest and almost all of them are newbies. We are happy to introduce new people into the wiki world :) Lets work on using these images, we now have, in Wikipedia articles!

Ten best pictures of Morocco this year you see below. You are free to reuse them, but please mention the author and the license.

Best pictures from Thailand

One more country to reveal its top-10 pictures. Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Thailand took place in June. 148 National parks in Thailand were eligible sites to upload their pictures on Wikimedia Commons. 422 new images we now have from these parks — isn’t that great? :)

Please, may your eyes rest on these wonderful pictures.

Tunisia TOP-10 photos of the contest

Today we are glad to present top 10 images from Tunisia. The contest took place from 1 May 2016 to 7 June 2016. Eligible objects for the contest were National parksRamsar sitesNatural reservesDamsRiversImportant Bird AreasImportant Plant Areas.

712 images were received for Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Tunisia in total. 5% of them are already used in Wikipedia articles. You can help raise this percent by adding images into the articles yourself :)

47 authors uploaded their images for the contest — and 28 of them, it means more that a half, registered just to take part. Thank you all!

Meet winners of Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Nepal

Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Nepal was organized by Maithili Wikimedians and lasted for 45 days, it began on 1 May and finished on 15 June, 2016. We are proud to present you its glorious results.

In the entire competition of Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Nepal, 271 user participated and uploaded their images of the natural heritage sites of Nepal to Wikimedia Commons. Top uploader of the competition is user Indra Rai who donated 264 files, the second and third uploaders are users Bijay chaurasia and Nabin845 with 93 and 92 files respectively.

And here are best images of the contest:

Himalayan Yaks in the Everest Region © Agnes Kwong, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

1st place. Himalayan Yaks in the Everest Region © Agnes Kwong, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

2nd place. Reflection of Annapurna Mountain © Marija Grujovska, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

2nd place. Reflection of Annapurna Mountain © Marija Grujovska, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

3rd place. Gosainkunda Lake, Rasuwa © Pratap Baniya, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

3rd place. Gosainkunda Lake, Rasuwa © Pratap Baniya, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

You can also see top 10 winners and more statistics.

To felicitate the winners of the Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Nepal, Maithili Wikimedians organized an event on 9th July, 2016. It was held in Masala Cottage, Kathmandu and was visited by 75 people. Winners received their prizes and were praised a lot for capturing such marvelous places of the country.

Ka Bo Kwong (1st winner) receiving her prize money. Photo by Bijay chaurasia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ka Bo Kwong (1st winner) receiving her prize money. Photo by Bijay chaurasia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Marija Gurjovska (2nd winner) receiving her prize money.

Marija Gurjovska (2nd winner) receiving her prize money. Photo by Bijay chaurasia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Pratap Baniya (3rd winner) speaking about the photo.

Pratap Baniya (3rd winner) speaking about the photo. Photo by Bijay chaurasia, CC BY-SA 4.0

The organizers thank to all the participants who took part in the contest. Thanks to you Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects have now more wonderful photos of wonderful country — Nepal.

Interview with a Katerina Zareva-Simeonova, a member of last year’s international jury

She is Katerina Zareva-Simeonova. She was the Bulgarian representative in the nine-person jury last year, which evaluated the photos at the International stage in the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest. The curious detail is that in 2015 the contest was organized in a total number of 26 countries, but not all of them had representatives in the jury. Bulgaria was invited to appoint a jury member, although the country takes part in the contest for the first time.

Katerina Zareva-Simeonova. Author: © Marcel Fens.

Due to the contest specifics, the appointed jury member had to be a biologist or ecologist with experience in photography. Katya is much more than that – she is also a big friend of the Free Encyclopedia. :-)

After the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest finished and we announced the results, we asked Katya for an interview. We wanted to learn what it means to be a juror in a contest with so many breath-taking pictures…

Katya, present yourself in a couple of words. :-)

My name is Katerina Zareva-Simeonova, I live in Sofia and my formal education is ecology. I have been working for 17 years in the Sofia Zoo, and I am currently the head of the Ecological scientific-educational centre in the Zoo. This is the department that accomplishes the Zoo’s function of providing education in ecology, develop educational materials and projects, one of which was the joint project with the Bulgarian version of the Free Encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Apart from the area of zoology, my interests are related to photography and popular science documentaries. I have published photos of animals and nature in various journals and books, and I have authored more than 100 educational and documentary ecological films, mainly about Bulgarian nature.

You have been juror in other photo contests, too. Tell us more about them, and what made the difference with the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest?

Yes, I have juried for competitions for children photographs and pictures, as well for film competitions on national level. For me, it was a great pleasure to be part of the International Jury of such a public photo competition like WLE, with already shortlisted pictures from 26 countries around the world. We had to review and evaluate 259 photos, showing the nature and biodiversity in the protected areas in these countries. For this purpose, we were provided with a special software tool and system for evaluation, helping jurors to calmly and independently evaluate all the photos.

What were the criteria, which the jury used to evaluate the photos. What was the most difficult part of the contest for you?

The criteria for the “Wiki Loves Monuments” contest are specific, since the contest has the certain goal of stimulating people to take pictures of the nature in their countries and create and extend the freely licensed information in Wikipedia, and in Commons in particular.  For this reason, the criteria of evaluation were: technical quality, originality, and encyclopedic and educational value.

What hindered me was the huge choice of pictures of high quality and intriguing content. That was challenging for my evaluation, that had to be a very accurate and objective one. In the same time, that was for me a thrilling aesthetic and cultural experience, unveiling for me unbelievably beautiful natural landmarks and sceneries I haven’t expected to exist. I think that the concourse delivered its message and accomplished its mission, getting me to know and love the Earth even more than before!

None of the Bulgarian photos has been distinguished among the Top 15. What did we miss, in your opinion?

The winning pictures from the Bulgarian national stage of the competition depicted landscapes and animals from the natural parks of Rousse Lom River, Vratsa Balkan, Belasitsa, Belogradchik Rocks, Strandzha, Pirin and Rila mountains. All of them were gorgeous and rightfully represent our nature. At least for me, the pictures that affected me mostly, were the Belogradchik Rocks and the panorama view from Peak Vihren in Pirin.

However, the competition was really tough, and I think that our pictures lacked some originality. Both the audience and the jury are satiated with visual information, they want more colour, more of the wow-effect. It’s no surprise that the winning picture is a landscape from Pakistan, featuring buildings. Humans need to see themselves and the trace they leave onto nature, in order to compare themselves with it.  

Katya, you are the head of the Ecological scientific-educational centre in the Sofia Zoo. In your opinion, how such photo contests contribute to raising the society’s awareness about environmental issues?

First, the contest participants have the opportunity to express their attitude to nature and show a favourite place or animal of theirs. On the other hand, in this very competition, where images are made freely available, this message reverberates, carries knowledge, and is capable of changing the mindset of many people.

I believe that nowadays, when people are impatient enough to watch even several minutes of a video in the Internet, photography has a particularly pronounced and direct impact. An image can take the breath away and cause great excitement, especially if it captures a beautiful natural landscape. I still think that beauty can save the world, and this is why I rely on it, rather than on the aesthetic of ugliness or of shocking imagery.

Which picture was your personal favourite?

I won’t try to hide that for me the most interesting photos were the ones depicting animals. This is my field of expertise, and I well know how hard it is to take a picture of an animal, especially in wildlife. My favourite photo, which turned out to be favourite for the rest of the jury members as well, came from Brazil and captured the moment of birth of an Apis Mellifera drone. That image received the special jury prize in the contest.

When we talk about photos of animals, why is it important to have them pictured in their natural habitat?

Taking pictures of animals in their natural environment is critically important, as it raises the educational and encyclopedic value of the photos. Animals are part of a certain ecosystem, and must not be considered outside of it. Such images are the most appreciated ones and the ones most difficult to take, especially when it comes to species that inhabit a different from humans’ environment, like river and ocean species, birds in flight, or underground dwellers.

Nowadays, with the recent advance of technologies, cinema and photography have allowed us to peek into almost every corner of our planet and see amazing and intimate moments of the lives of its inhabitants. These images have a huge scientific value, too.

Katya, thank you for this interview, and for you being a juror in the Wiki Loves Earth contest! It was really important for us that we had an appointed representative in the International Jury, as of the first participation of Bulgaria in the concourse. And even more so, that our representative was you. :-)

Interview and translation: Vassia Atanassova
Editor: Maya Marinova

Please, meet Wozzy

When Wozzy flew to us in the late evening of 31 May, a couple of hours before the start of the “Wiki Loves Earth 2016” in Bulgaria, he was approved unanimously by the organizers to become the contest’s mascot. He got the name ‘Wozzy’ from the Bulgarian translation of the abbreviation WLE, which sounds as ‘WOZ’.

Wozzy is pleased to get a photo in front of the "Wiki Loves Earth 2016 Bulgaria" poster.

Wozzy is pleased to get a photo in front of the “Wiki Loves Earth 2016 Bulgaria” poster.

Checking the field guide to the birds of Bulgaria, we could most accurately identify Wozzy as a Eurasian pygmy owl, representative of the Glaucidium passerinum species. From the Wikipedia article about the species, we learned that pygmy owls are the smallest owl species in Europe and Bulgaria, with body length of 15–19 cm, wingspan of 32–39 cm and weight up to about 80 grams. And, yes, with body length of 14 cm, wingspan of 19,5 cm and weight of 66 grams, our Wozzy is one really pygmy pygmy owl. When he understood which species we attribute him to, Wozzy didn’t mind and even hooted consentingly six times (well, not before we pressed the button on his belly).

Pygmy owls are wide spread in the boreal forests of Eurasia, and in the Central and Southern Europe they can only be found as a relict species in the mountains. The species’ conservation status is generally of least concern, but on the territory of Bulgaria it has been included in the Red Book of Endangered Species due to its paucity. Nesting pygmy owls have been detected in the three national parks in Bulgaria: “Central Balkan”, “Pirin” and “Rila”, and some other reserves like the Western Rhodopes and Slavyanka – all of them being locations included in the thematic scope of the “Wiki Loves Earth” photo contest, from where we encourage readers to send us their photos.

With his watchful eyes, Wozzy carefully proofreads the landing page of the contest.

With his watchful eyes, Wozzy carefully proofreads the landing page of the contest.

Wozzy is far from the only mascot of a Wikimedian event or initiative. Flying here with us, he not only joined the organization team of “Wiki Loves Earth”, but also joined the merry band of plushies from the Wikimedia Cuteness Association: Percy Plush, Wendy the Weasel, Peter the Wikiplatypus, Erminig the Stoat, Punky and Lars, and others. We will introduce Wozzy face to face with the rest of the plushies after several weeks in Italy, where, at the end of June, Wikimania, the annual conference of the global Wikimedian community, will take place, along with the third annual Cuteathon.

Originally posted on Wikimedia Bulgaria Blog

Wiki Loves Earth in Greece – tourists are welcome to participate!

Small waterfalls in Pelion, the mountain of Centaurs. Neoklis F., CC-BY-SA-4.0

Having begun in May 15th, Wiki Loves Earth in Greece is now at the halfway mark! The event is running in Greece for the first time, although parts of the required preparations started at least two years ago! For instance, an initial list of areas to be photographed was prepared in 2014.

Kastoria lake. Geosfot, CC-BY-SA-4.0


In order to run the Wiki Loves Earth contest, we needed a list of protected areas and natural reserves; national parks and forests, monuments of nature, RAMSAR sites, Natura 2000 sites etc. We found out that many of these areas overlapped with each other, or that smaller protected areas under the same definition were included in a wider protected area. In order to keep it simple, instead of merging these lists of protected areas into one big list, we chose to run the competition using the list of the Natura 2000 network, which includes most, if not all, of the areas of interest and is well documented. These sites constitute almost 30% of the land area of Greece and most of the population lives no more than 30 km away from anyone of them. Of course, although we are organising some photoexpeditions, we do not expect people to travel only for the competition. In Greece, excursions to the countryside are very frequent, during all seasons, and we expect that many contributions will be photos from previous such visits. Even people who are in areas around Greece just for tourism can contribute, as many of the islands and beaches are part of a protected natural area!

Skhinias and Marathon National Park, a step away from Athens. Oplats, CC-BY-SA-4.0


To this day we have seen great images from lakes, forests, beaches, habitats of birds, photos of many different species of flowers. This is great, as there was a lack of freely lincensed images for many locations in Greece. The images from Wiki Loves Earth will be useful for Wikipedia articles, but also for Wikidata items that we plan to create for each of these areas. What’s more, if the project is successful more people will know not only about Wikipedia, but also about Wikimedia Commons, and new users will be engaged in both projects. Until this day, participation is as expected, with more than 1100 new images from dozens of contributors throughout the country. There is also a lot of interest from the media, and it will bring in even more contributors. Running this photo contest in Greece is very important, as it is one of the limited number of ways to inform the public that they can contribute to Wikipedia not only by writing texts but also with their photos, cameras, or even smartphones. Although one would expect that Wiki Loves Monuments would be something very easy in a country whose culture and monuments span thousands of years, it is not. There is no Freedom of Panorama in Greece, and even taking photos of older monuments is a problem, because of the complex legislation regarding publishing rights for photos of monuments protected by the government. That is the reason we started photo contests by taking part in the European Science Photo Competition 2015, where we gained a lot of experience that we use for WLE. But Greece, except of being a country with long history, is also a land of sun, high mountains, deep forests, and long beaches. It is a habitat of a lot of unique spieces of birds, plants, and even sea turtles and seals in its archipelago. When we set our goal to 2500 images, it was commented that it is too high. We expect it to be fair. :-)

Lilium chalcedonicum on Mount Olympus. EleKal, CC-BY-SA-4.0