In a rare incident, a Great White Pelican was rescued in one of Windhoek’s upmarket suburbs last week, where it had come to alight, hungry and exhausted.
The endangered species landed and was found tired and forlorn on a lawn at a sportsfield in Olympia. It is suspected the endangered bird flew from the Hardap Region in search of food and water, driven on by the persistent drought.
A member of the public, who rescued the bird, contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals (SPCA) to collect the bird.
It was then taken to the Namibia Animal Rehabilitation Research and Education Centre (NARREC), where the bird was assessed, housed, fed and given identification rings. NARREC founder Liz Komen confirmed the rare case, saying they fed and nursed the pelican back to health.
This species is considered vulnerable in Namibia and although it is not currently threatened globally, there are a number of potential threats in southern Africa, including poaching at breeding sites, natural drying of ephemeral pans and lakes – especially in the current drought periods –, collision with ever-expanding power-line networks and oil spills in coastal waters. She said they handed over the bird to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, who facilitated the release of the pelican at an appropriate site. Ministry of Environment and Tourism officer Penda Shooya released the Great White Pelican at Von Bach dam, which is home to a plethora of bird species near Okahandja last week. “The birds are just moving due to drought in search of food and water. We suspect it came from Hardap Region. We have members of the public who are passionate about nature, because they know government cannot do it alone,” Komen said of the residents who reported the incident.
The Great White Pelican can typically be seen at freshwater dams in estuaries and at coastal sites in Namibia. These large birds with a relatively long lifespan can be resident at one site, but will periodically migrate in search of higher water levels and better food sources.
Komen noted that weighing in at up to nine kilograms these pelicans utilise air currents. Groups flying overhead can often be seen in a thermal lift or gliding in an energy-saving V formation.