Volume 51, No. 1

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European-Asian population of Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, from breeding to wintering: A review


1Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Guilan, Persian Gulf Highway, Rasht City, Guilan Province, Iran *(
2Rasht Academic Jihad Environmental Research Institute, Rasht City, Guilan Province, Iran


MAHDIANY BORA, K., MIRBAZEL, G. & TAJADOD, M. 2023. European-Asian population of Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, from breeding to wintering: A review. Marine Ornithology 51: 27 - 32

Received 04 May 2022, accepted 14 September 2022

Date Published: 2023/04/15
Date Online: 2023/04/10
Key words: breeding sites, Great White Pelican, migratory bird, Near Threatened, water birds, wintering sites


Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus (hereafter: GWP) is an IUCN Near Threatened species having two distinct populations. The first population is a migratory European-Asian population that has an extensive Palearctic breeding range from eastern Europe to western Asia and has exhibited a sharp decline during the last couple of decades. The second population, on the other hand, is a sedentary but stable population that breeds mostly in Kenya, South Africa, and Namibia. Herein, we review the literature available on the occurrence patterns of these populations. Many studies on the migratory population show that conditions during winter have substantial impacts on survival, with food availability and predator avoidance being important and affected by location. For both the migratory and sedentary GWP populations, results showed that an increase in human activities, especially poaching, has been the main cause of decline. Furthermore, climate change appears to be important as well. We recommend three areas of research to better understand GWP trends: 1) investigation of migratory routes, 2) within-group patterns of movement and habitat use as winter approaches, and 3) identification of likely migratory stopover sites. Poaching should be banned strictly at GWP wintering sites, and appropriate management decisions need to be made to ensure GWP protection.


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