Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Race to save pelicans in frozen sea

Endangered Dalmatian pelicans at a shipyard near Makhachkala on the Caspian Sea (AP)

Authorities are scrambling to save hundreds of starving and endangered Dalmatian pelicans after the Caspian Sea froze for the first time in years.

Hundreds of the birds with distinctive curly feathers at their napes are jostling one another in a patch of unfrozen water at a shipyard near the city of Makhachkala, the capital of the southern Russian province of Dagestan.

About 20 birds have died of hunger despite hundreds of pounds of fish that Dagestan's Nature Protection Ministry is buying each day to feed them, spokesman Arslan Dydymov said.

Fewer than 1,400 Dalmatian pelicans, the world's largest, live in southern Russia.

The birds flew to Makhachkala last week from the frozen deltas of the Volga and Terek rivers up north.

Local residents were so excited by the arrival that the guards at the Makhachkala shipyard had to stop hundreds of people from entering with bread and other unsuitable foods.

"We did not let them in for the sake of the pelicans," chief guard Magomed Eldarov said.

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