Dalmatian Pelican | Prespa Lakes | The Majestic and Endangered Pink-Billed Beauty
Updated: Oct 26
George P. Papadellis | SG Head
with some good tips from AI
The Dalmatian Pelican, scientifically known as Pelecanus crispus, is one of the world's largest freshwater birds. The species has a distinctive appearance, with a massive pink and orange bill, white plumage, and curly nape feathers. These birds are found in various regions of Europe and Asia, including the Prespa Lakes, the transboundary wetland, which is home to a significant population of Dalmatian Pelicans. However, this majestic species is facing several threats, and the preservation of their habitat is critical for their survival. Today, only up to 10,000–20,000 pelicans exist at the species level.
Although there were once millions of Dalmatian pelicans, even only in Romania, during the 20th century the species' numbers underwent a dramatic decline for reasons that are not entirely understood, most likely by habitat loss due to human activities such as the drainage of wetlands and land development.
Habitat and Distribution
Dalmatian Pelicans are migratory birds and breed mainly in the Balkans, Central Asia, and China. During the winter, they move to warmer climates, such as India and Africa. In Europe, the species can be found in Greece, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia. The Prespa Lakes, situated in the southwestern Balkans, are an essential breeding site for Dalmatian Pelicans, with around 1,200 pairs nesting there. These lakes are a transboundary wetland shared by Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia, and provide essential feeding grounds for the pelicans.
Dalmatian Pelican Threats
Despite being a protected species, Dalmatian Pelicans face various threats to their survival. The loss of wetland habitats due to human activities such as drainage, damming, and agriculture, is a significant threat to the species. Pollution and illegal hunting are also putting the Dalmatian Pelican at risk. Climate change is another factor that is impacting the species, as it alters the availability of food and water.
To protect the Dalmatian Pelican, various conservation measures have been implemented in the Prespa Lakes region. One of the most critical initiatives is the creation of the Prespa National Park in Greece, which aims to conserve the wetland ecosystem and the species that depend on it. The park also promotes sustainable tourism, which generates income for the local communities while preserving the environment. In addition, several research and monitoring projects have been carried out to better understand the pelicans' behavior and biology, helping to guide conservation efforts.
The Dalmatian Pelican of Prespa Lakes is a magnificent species that plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of wetland ecosystems. However, the species is facing significant threats, and urgent conservation measures are needed to ensure its survival. The preservation of wetland habitats, the reduction of pollution and illegal hunting, and the promotion of sustainable tourism are vital steps towards the protection of this majestic bird. By working together, we can ensure the preservation of the Dalmatian Pelican and the beautiful wetland ecosystems that support it.