Every year, pink pelicans fly to the Ukrainian estuaries to rest after long flights from the warm lands. Some of them do not stay long, others stay in Ukraine until almost November. Pelicans Alkaliia and Alibey fell into the hands of poachers, who later sold the birds to a restaurant.
There, Alkaliia and Alibey had their wings trimmed and were kept in captivity. Birds were fed from the table, photographed by visitors, and kept in a cage. Therefore, when friends of the Tuzly Lagoons National Nature Park saw the pelicans, they contacted the Park and decided to save the birds.
First of all, environmentalists contacted the management of the restaurant. Businessmen were told that birds should not be kept in such conditions and that it is still possible to try to return them to wildlife. The management realized their mistake and gave the pelicans to the Park. Having found out about this case, our organization immediately offered help.
Since then, rehabilitation of Alkaliia and Alibey has begun, and birds have gradually been preparing for returning to the wild. It was simply impossible to set them free as soon as pelicans were taken from the restaurant: birds could neither hunt nor fly. They only could swim pretty well, but could easily fall into the trap.
The first task for pelicans after being in captivity for most of their lives was to re-learn to eat fish on their own. Ornithologists of the park helped Alkaliia and Alibey to cope with this. They also monitored the appetite of pelicans. Thanks to Tiandy Ukraine — the official distributor of video surveillance equipment — cameras were installed in their aviary, so Alkaliia and Alibey could be watched round-the-clock. This way park staff was able to understand pelicans’ problems with other residents of the rehabilitation center and relocate birds. Also, they were able to gather international veterinary and ornithological councils in late December 2020 to talk about the reasons for birds` loss of appetite and prescribe the necessary treatment.
For the pelicans to learn how to feed on their own, the Park staff set up the construction of an artificial island. Almost the whole country was collecting money for this project to happen. The whole cost of the transportation of the pelicans to the wild reached 150 thousand hryvnias. This amount was partly covered by charitable contributions.
The birds fully recovered in the summer of 2021, meaning they learned how to hunt themselves, joined a flock of wild pelicans, and had their wings restored, which allowed them to learn to fly again. Each of them received a ring with its license plate for further possible tracking.
In the fall of 2022, the birds flew to warmer lands with their newly found family.
You can find out more about the project on Facebook using these hashtags: #ІсторіяВрятованихПеліканів or #АлібейТаАлкалія.
- Restoring the health of pelicans Alkaliia and Alibey.
- Returning the pelicans into the wild.