Dalmatian Pelican Task Force
The Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus is the largest freshwater bird in the world. The breeding range of Dalmatian pelican spans from southeastern Europe to western Mongolia. The global population of this species experienced a massive decline in 19th and 20th centuries. However, many years of conservation measures have resulted in a population increase in the west and central populations in Europe. Because of this IUCN has downlisted the conservation status of Dalmatian Pelicans from Vulnerable to Near Threatened in 2017 (BirdLife International 2018).
There is a distinct geographic population of this species in East Asia that only breeds in a small part of western Mongolia. They all spend the non-breeding period along the eastern coastal areas in China. Currently, there are less than 150 individuals of Dalmatian pelican in this population. There is no records or indication that the birds from this population blend with pelicans breeding in areas west of Mongolia. Thus it is one of the most threatened waterbird populations in the EAA Flyway requiring urgent conservation actions by range countries (Catsadorakis and Portolou 2017).
At the 10th Meeting of the EAAFP in Hainan, China, the International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of Dalmatian Pelican was adopted by all parties. The Action Plan had been adopted by EU, CMS and the AEWA MOP7 during 2018 and was ready for initiation of implementation in 2019. However, very little have been covered in the Asian population, particularly the population that breeds in Mongolia and winters in China. The 10th EAAFP MOP has decided for a Task Force to be established under the EAAF Partnership to coordinate, catalyse and monitor implementation of actions of the East Asian population. This Task Force is essential to propose and develop conservation actions, propose implementation plan, and prioritize actions in EAA Flyway.
In July 2019, an international consultancy meeting on the conservation strategy for the East Asian Dalmatian Pelicans was held in Khovd city, Mongolia. During the meeting the Dalmatian Pelican Task Force was established under the EAAFP.
To restore the Dalmatian Pelican’s population to a positive growth rate for a period of at least three generations.
The role of the EAAFP Dalmatian Pelican Task Force is to:
- Coordinate and catalyse the implementation of the International Single Species Action Plan (SSAP) for the Conservation of Dalmatian Pelican in East Asia;
- Stimulate and support Range States in East Asia in the implementation of the ISSAP; and
- Monitor and report on the implementation and the effectiveness of the ISSAP with focus on the population in East Asia.
The EAAFP Dalmatian Pelican Task Force will:
- Develop an Implementation Plan for East Asia based on the International Single Species Action Plan for the Dalmatian Pelican and implement priorities outlined in them;
- Coordinate the overall international implementation in the EAAF;
- Raise funds for development and implementation of the Action Plan;
- Assist Range States in producing national action plans, if required;
- Ensure the Task Force is open to governmental and expert members from all key Range States and other relevant Partners.
- Ensure regular and thorough monitoring of the species populations;
- Stimulate and support scientific research in the species necessary for conservation;
- Promote the protection of the network of critical sites for the species, by assisting Partners to develop new Flyway Site Network nominations, and encourage the designation of new protected areas by Partners;
- Facilitate internal and external communication and exchange of scientific, technical, legal and other required information, including with other specialists and interested parties;
- Assist with information in determination of the IUCN Red List status and population size and trends of the species;
- Regularly monitor the effectiveness of implementation of the ISSAP and take appropriate action according to monitoring results;
- Regularly report on the implementation of the ISSAP to the EAAFP Meeting of the Partners; and contribute to revising the ISSAP and update every 10 years or as required.
Task Force Chair
Dr. Nyambayar Batbayar
Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia
Union Building B-701, UNESCO Street, Ulaanbaatar 14210, Mongolia
Task Force Coordinator
Dr. Shengwu Jiao
Research Institute of Subtropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry
#73 Daqiao Road Fuyang District Hangzhou Zhejiang, 311400, China
Population Range, Estimations and Trends
At present, the eastern Asian subpopulation is estimated to have less than 150 birds that breed only in western Mongolia and winter in southeastern China. The Dalmatian Pelican is listed in the Mongolian Red Book and is a nationally protected species (second class) in China. The species is listed on Appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species and Appendix I on CITES.
Until the 1960s and 1970s, Dalmatian Pelicans were rather common in western Mongolia, with several hundred pairs breeding in the region’s large lakes and wetland areas. In the early 1970s the population started to decline mostly because of habitat degradation and shooting by locals. In particular, the shooting for beaks is presumed to be one of the main driving force behind the population decline in this population. Because the upper mandible is a much-favoured material for sweat blades for race horses.
Besides isolated records from Korea, Japan and Taiwan, most of the winter records of East Asian population of Dalmatian Pelicans came from the Lower Yangtze River basin, Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong, and along the eastern and southern China coast. Because of the disturbances from illegal border-crossing fishermen in the area, the number of Dalmatian Pelicans clearly declined from over 70 individuals in 1970s to only 20-30 birds in the early 1990s in Hong Kong. Today, the pelicans stopped wintering in Ma Poi.
Currently, the eastern coast of China is the most important stopover and wintering ground of Dalmatian Pelicans. Since September 2015, “China Coastal Waterbird Census” were organized, and the biggest recording number for now was 112 individuals in Dongtai coast, Jiangsu Province in November 2013. There are 50-60 wintering individuals in the Wenzhou Bay every year and another 10-40 individuals winter in fly to the Luoyuan Bay. The highest record number is 67 individuals of Dalmatian Pelicans in Wenzhou Bay in winter 2019/20 making the area a most important wintering site for this species.
At breeding areas in western Mongolia, the disturbances by nomadic herders and fishermen, and shooting by herders for the beak are the main threats to Dalmatian Pelicans. In contrast, the land reclamation, pollution and human disturbances along the Chinese coastline are considered to be main threats for migrating and wintering pelicans. The coastal wetlands have suffered greatly from development pressure and overexploitation of fisheries resources in east and south China. It is assumed that the reduction in fish biomass could be impacting seriously on the Pelicans’ feeding ecology.
Main breeding areas in Mongolia are covered by national level Special Protected Areas. In China, most of the stopover and wintering sites lay outside of the protected areas. It is critical to start conservation activities and establish a network of key sites to secure the future of Dalmatian Pelicans in East Asia.
Task Force Documents
The EAAFP Dalmatian Pelican Task Force will be open to:
- designated representatives of EAAFP Governmental Partners of all Range States,
- representatives of the relevant EAAFP Working Group (Seabird),
- representatives of national experts and conservation organisations from all Range States, and international organizations,
- Chair/representative(s) of the Dalmatian Pelican Working Group to be established to oversee implementation of the Dalmatian Pelican ISSAP, and
- pelican experts from other regions (not necessarily from the EAA Flyway)
- A Chairperson of the EAAFP Dalmatian Pelican Task Force will be elected amongst its members. This position should ideally be filled by an EAAFP Governmental Partner from either Range State (China and Mongolia). A Vice Chairperson should ideally be filled from the other Range State. These positions may be rotated on a three year basis.
- A Coordinator post will be nominated by the Chairperson from among the Task Force members. The Coordinator will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Task Force, participate in fund raising, and shall act in close cooperation with the TF Chairperson, the EAAFP Secretariat and the relevant EAAFP Working Group (Seabird).
- The coordinator will be a member of the Task Force and, ideally, represent an EAAFP Partner.
- The EAAFP Dalmatian Pelican Task Force should aim to hold face-to-face meetings at least once every three years, preferably in conjunction with MoPs. Other face-to-face meetings may be arranged if circumstances require. Between meetings, business will be conducted electronically such as via email, an appropriate Task Force website and list server.
- A report on the implementation of the SSAP will be produced for each EAAFP MoP according to a standard format agreed by the EAAFP Secretariat, with contributions from all major Range State Governmental Partners and Task Force members. Reports should be provided to the EAAFP Secretariat.
- At each EAAFP MoP, the Task Force Chairperson, Task Force Coordinator, and/or the EAAFP Secretariat should give an overview report on Single Species Action Plan development and implementation, summarizing progress for each Task Force, lessons learned, challenges common to the Task Forces, and any adjustments needed. Other reports will be produced by Task Forces as required by the EAAFP Secretariat or relevant EAAFP Working Group.
- International Consultancy Meeting on Conservation Strategy for the Dalmatian Pelicans in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway
- Shooting remains as biggest threat to Dalmatian Pelican in Mongolia
- Connecting Land and Sea – Pacific Seabird Group 47th Annual Meeting
- EAAFP engagement at CMS COP13 with the theme of “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home”
Batbayar N., Bräunlich A., Natsagdorj T., Setev Sh., and S. Gantogs. 2007. Conservation of the critically endangered East Asian population of Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus in western Mongolia. BirdingASIA, 7: 68–74.
BirdLife International. 2018. Pelecanus crispus (amended version of 2017 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22697599A122838534. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T22697599A122838534.en. Downloaded on 06 December 2019.
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).
Shi H, Cao L, Barter M, Barter M A. 2008. Status of the East Asian population of the Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus: the need for urgent conservation action. Bird Conservation International, 18: 181–193.
Yu R, Chen Z. 2008. Dalmatian Pelican Pelicanus crispus: the largest waterbird in East Asia, and the rarest? Birding ASIA, 62-66.