Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus breeds predominantly in south-east Europe and central Asia, with breeding taking place in at least 12 countries (see Catsadorakis and Portolou 2017). During the non-breeding season, individuals in western populations migrate to the Mediterranean; individuals from Russia and central Asia migrate to Iraq, Iran and the Indian Subcontinent; and individuals breeding in Mongolia migrate to eastern China (Elliot et al. 2017).
This species has been threatened by a range of threats. Historically, this species was threatened by drainage of its wetland habitat, persecution from fishers, and hunting (Crivelli 1994, Crivelli et al. 1997, Mix and Bräunlich 2000), with poaching/persecution continuing to be a major threat to the species in east Asia (Shi et al. 2008, Yat-tung Yu and Chen Zhihong 2008, G. Catsadorakis in litt. 2017). Additionally, further destruction and degradation of wetlands, collisions with power-lines and disturbance are all other continuing threats to this species (Crivelli et al. 1999, Mix and Bräunlich 2000, Catsadorakis and Portolou 2017). These threats led to rapid declines and the species was listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2ce+3ce+4ce (see BirdLife International 2017).
New information suggests that the global Red List category for this species may need to be revised. Catsadorakis and Portolou (2017) place the global population size at a minimum of 5,693-6,694 breeding pairs, potentially up to 7,342-8,984 (G. Catsadorakis in litt. 2017), an increase from previous estimates made in the 1980s-1990s of 4,034-5,196 pairs. Of the nine countries where the species breeds regularly, four populations are fluctuating (Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Montenegro), three are increasing (Greece, Turkey and Albania) and one is stable (Romania) (Catsadorakis and Portolou 2017), with indications that the populations in Russia and Montenegro may be increasing too (G. Catsadorakis in litt. 2017). Based on the available data, the species is also thought to have increased overall in Kazakhstan over the last decade (A. Zhatkanbayev in litt. to Catsadorakis and Portolou 2017).
Given this data, it is therefore plausible that the species has actually increased over the past 3 generations (33 years), and in the European Red List the species was listed as Least Concern at regional scale because of such increases (BirdLife International 2015). There are still population declines being reported for some countries, particularly those outside of Europe (Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, parts of Kazakhstan and Iran), but the data suggests that overall these have been outweighed by the increases elsewhere.
As the species is currently increasing overall, it might warrant listing as Least Concern, because it would not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. However, there remains some doubt about the current overall size and trend of the breeding population in Kazakhstan, which potentially contains 29-47% of the global population and where a number of threats remain active (Catsadorakis and Portolou 2017). Additionally, the species in south-east Europe is entirely management-dependent and so the removal of conservation measures could lead to future population declines (G. Catsadorakis in litt. 2017). Therefore, there is the potential for large declines in the future (though not necessarily >30% of the global population over 3 generations), even though the evidence suggests that the species has not globally declined in the recent past. As such, it may be appropriate to propose that this species could undergo moderately rapid declines in the next three generations and so it is proposed that the species be listed as Near Threatened under criterion A3cde.
We welcome any further information or comments regarding this proposed downlisting.
BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Pelecanus crispus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/04/2017.
Catsadorakis, G.; D. Portolou (compilers). 2017. Status Report for the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus). Report of Action A6 under the framework of Project LIFE EuroSAP (LIFE14 PRE/UK/002). Hellenic Ornithological Society and Society for the Protection of Prespa (unpublished report). http://www.trackingactionplans.org/SAPTT/downloadDocuments/openDocument?idDocument=30
Crivelli, A. 1994. The importance of the former USSR for the conservation of pelican populations nesting in the Palaeartic. In: Crivelli, A.J.; Krivenko, V.G.; Vinogradov, V.G. (ed.), Pelicans in the former USSR, pp. 1-4. International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau, Slimbridge, UK.
Crivelli, A. J.; Catsadorakis, G.; Hatzilacou, D.; Nazirides, T. 1997. Pelicanus crispus Dalmatian Pelican. Birds of the Western Palearctic Update 1(3): 149-153.
Crivelli, A. J.; Marsili, L.; Focardi, S.; Renzoni, A. 1999. Organochlorine compounds in pelicans (Pelecanus crispus and Pelecanus onocrotalus) nesting at Lake Mikri Prespa, north-western Greece. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 62: 383-389.
Elliott, A.; Christie, D. A.; Jutglar, F.; Kirwan, G. M. 2017. Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/52613 on 12 April 2017).
Hatzilacou, D. 1993. The distribution of the globally endangered Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus in Greece: threats pertaining to its habitats and recommendations for protection. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sandy, U.K.
Mix, H. M.; Bräunlich, A. 2000. Dalmatian Pelican. In: Reading, R.P.; Miller, B. (ed.), Endangered animals: a reference guide to conflicting issues, pp. 78-83. Greenwood Press, London.
Shi, H. Q.; Cao, L.; Barter, M. A.; Liu, N. F. 2008. Status of the East Asian population of the Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus: the need for urgent conservation action. Bird Conservation International 18(2): 181-193.
Yat-tung Yu; Chen Zhihong. 2008. Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus: the largest waterbird in East Asia, and the rarest? BirdingASIA 9: 62-66.