Skadar Lake – Joining Forces to Save the Last Breeding Colony of Dalmatian Pelicans in Montenegro

Fishing is the main source of livelihood for 16,000 people that lives on the shores of Skadar Lake.

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic Voices blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world.

Text and Photos by iLCP Fellow Jaime Rojo

Fishing is the main source of livelihood for 16,000 people that lives on the shores of Skadar Lake.

Skadar Lake is the biggest lake on the Balkan Peninsula, a transboundary wetland of international importance shared by Montenegro and Albania. The lake hosts a small breeding colony of Dalmatian pelicans (Pelecanus crispus), one of the largest birds in the world and classified as Vulnerable at an international level. Since the 17th century, 80% of the Dalmatian Pelican’s breeding sites have disappeared, and today, its presence in Europe is limited to only 13 wetlands in the Balkans and the Caucasus.

Skadar Lake is an important bird reserve in Europe and home to one of the largest birds in the world, the endangered Dalmatian Pelican.

For decades, the colony in Skadar had struggled to survive due to the floods that would wash out the nests every season. Human disturbance caused by fishermen and tourist boats approaching the colony was also a major problem for the birds. In 2013, learning from best-practice at Lake Prespa in Greece, home of a very successful pelican conservation story, a team of grantees from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) led by French NGP Noe Conservation started a transboundary collaborative effort to implement a new management system in Skadar Lake that would favor the conservation of the pelicans while allowing for the sustainable development of the local communities.

Among many other conservation activities, the team focused on the design and introduction of floating rafts for the pelicans, an ingenious solution to mitigate —> Read More