South eastern European Pelican Census for the third time
The 3rd SE European pelican census was conducted last May on the 12th on a single-afternoon simultaneous count in seven countries in SE Europe, as well as in the part of the transboundary Great Prespa Lake belonging to the fYR of Macedonia.
This international census involved the two pelican species, the globally endangered Dalmatian pelican (DP) and the great white pelican (GWP). It has been an initiative of and was coordinated by the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP), an environmental NGO based in Agios Germanos, Prespa, in Greece and was accomplished thanks to the collaboration of various organisations and individuals from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, the fYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine.
Pelicans were recorded in 110 out of 143 wetlands censused, representing a good coverage of the network of wetlands used by the two species of pelicans in this corner of the world, which is thought to be home to about 50% of the global population of the Dalmatian pelican.
This ambitious task was carried out with the contribution of various participants, which included: the Management Authorities of 17 protected areas, 6 public institutions and 12 environmental NGOs of which 7 are BirdLife partners. Overall, 133 people -personnel from the collaborating organisations together with volunteers- recorded 5,814 DPs and 26,936 GWPs. The western (Adriatic–Ionian) DP populations which form a distinct meta-population accounted for 15% of the total number of DP individuals in 2018.
The wetlands of SE Europe act as important refuges for waterbirds, and for pelicans in particular, while at the same time the value of each of them is amplified by their proximity to other wetlands. This is because, although pelicans have their breeding colonies in just 20 or so wetlands in SE Europe, they use a much larger number to meet all their needs, especially during the breeding season.
The census has once again highlighted the exceptional importance of the collaborative network of authorities and scientists from different countries that has been created in the past few years. Such invaluable simultaneous data can be gathered only through extensive international collaborations. It is worth noting that this activity which covered tens of thousands of square kilometers and needed to be carried out by cars and boats in most wetlands, and even a light aircraft for the Danube Delta colonies, which span vast areas of inaccessible reedbeds, required minimal financial resources thanks to the involvement of so many enthusiastic volunteers.
An evaluation report for the 3 years of the SE European pelican census that will entail a comparison of the data from the 3 years and guide future steps is under preparation and will be shared and discussed with all participants.
You can find the results, the list of participants and a map of wetlands censused in 2018 here.
This activity has been implemented with the support of the PONT (Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust).