Intensification of conservation efforts for the protection of pelicans

11 December 2013 | Article
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The new IUCN Member Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) has been active in the last 22 year in the Prespa area, a region shared between Greece, Albania, and the Republic of Macedonia hosting the globally threatened Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus).

The Dalmatian Pelican is a species of international concern for which Greece bears a very great responsibility. Lesser Prespa Lake hosts the largest colony of the species in the world (about 1,200 pairs) and overall Greece is home to more than 25% of the world population. The SSP has contributed significantly to the protection of the species thanks to large-scale conservation measures and awareness-raising activities.

Over the past two years, the following activities have been implemented with partners at both national and international levels. In 2012, the SPP in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Pelican Specialist Group and Wetlands International organized the first Workshop on Pelican Research and Conservation in South-Eastern Europe. On that occasion, sixteen experts from nine countries participated: Israel, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro, Slovenia, France and Greece. The workshop goals were to assess the population status of the two pelican species in this region, identify threats and suggest appropriate conservation actions to effectively address the key threats to these birds.

On a national level, the first nationwide Pelican census was successfully held this spring in thirty wetlands throughout the country. The census was an initiative of the SPP and the Hellenic Ornithological Society, and was implemented in collaboration with management bodies for protected areas and volunteers.

Finally, the SPP recently began monitoring Prespa Pelican colonies using a remote-controlled multi-copter for aerial surveys and GPS transmitters for tracking bird movements across their range. This technology is particularly useful for monitoring endangered species such as the Dalmatian Pelican, as it provides valuable data on their movements and the dangers they face, as well as their usage of wetlands in the Balkans and Turkey and their mortality. The first data sent by the transmitters reveal extensive use of the whole area of the Transboundary Prespa Park, highlighting once again the need for integrated protection of the area at a trilateral level.

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