Saving Pelecanus Crispus In The Danube Delta

Pelecanus crispus is classified as vulnerable within its whole geographical distribution, from Yugoslavia to Mongolia. Its present world breeding population is estimated at 4,000-5,000 breeding pairs. The European population of P. crispus is crucial for the survival of the species, as the two major subpopulations (ca. 700 pairs in Greece and ca. 400 pairs in Romania) are the last remaining strongholds of the species outside the former Soviet Union, where large declines have been noted in recent decades. In Romania, P. crispus has recently bred in five colonies (Rosca-Buhaiova, Lejai Lake, Bisericuta, Sinoie-Ceaplace Island, Sinoie-Prundul with Pasari Islands), all located within the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. The population of the Danube Delta targeted by the project (400-550 breeding pairs) represents 33.5-36.5% of the European population outside of the former Soviet Union, ca. 25.7-27.6% of the total estimated breeding population of Europe and ca. 9.9-10.6% of the total estimated global breeding population of the species. The anticipated results of this project will create safe and suitable breeding conditions for the Romanian breeding population by overcoming the most important threats: disturbance and degradation of breeding sites. Project objectivesMaintaining and protecting the P. crispus breeding population in the Danube Delta is the main objective of this project and will include designation of all the six breeding sites as SPAs, and specific conservation measures to improve the breeding conditions at each site, as well as creating additional breeding units by installing artificial structures. These will create conditions for the population to be stabilized, then increased across improved breeding sites. The project will be delivered over 47 months, by a partnership of two organizations in Romania comprising a non-governmental organization (Romanian Ornithological Society) and a local authority (Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority), and a non-governmental organization in the United Kingdom (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). Actions and means involvedThe Romanian breeding population of P. crispus will be maintained at a sustainable level in the Danube Delta by ensuring an adequate protection of the breeding sites, in order to eliminate disturbance due to human activities. An efficient guarding program will be set up and breeding sites will be clearly delineated and signalized by installing warning signs. As most of the actual breeding sites are fragile and subject to accentuated degradation, special conservation measures will be undertaken at each site by consolidating the shoreline of the natural islands, stopping erosion effects, installing artificial structures to increase the breeding area. Power lines will be marked to eliminate mortality due to collision and ground predation will be reduced by limiting the access to the sites. Training courses will be given for wardens to improve protection measures at breeding sites, for hunters and fishermen to reduce the incidence of accidental/deliberate shooting and killing of P. crispus within and outside the Danube Delta. A National Action Plan will be prepared to guarantee long-term conservation measures and commitment to protect the P. crispus population in Romania. Public awareness will be raised both at local and national level and the importance of having Natura 2000 sites will be emphasized. A comprehensive monitoring program will provide information on breeding requirements, population size and movements of P. crispus, on water quality, risk of contamination with heavy metals and pesticides, effects of conservation measures. There will be a wide dissemination of project results, an active involvement of the local community and other stakeholders in the implementation of the project.

by Sebastian Bugariu; Alida Barbu