Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Least Concern
2018 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency does not normally occur in forest
Land-mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence (breeding/resident) 51,200,000 km2 medium
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 54,800,000 km2 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size unknown poor estimated 2012
Population trend unknown - - -
Generation length 12.5 years - - -

Population justification: The global population is estimated at 265,000-295,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 4,900-5,600 pairs, which equates to 9,700-11,100 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). The population is therefore placed in the band 260,000-300,000 individuals.

Trend justification: The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing, stable, or have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding visitor Non-breeding visitor Passage migrant
Afghanistan extant native yes yes
Albania extant native yes
Algeria extant vagrant
Angola extant native yes
Armenia extant native yes
Austria extant vagrant
Azerbaijan extant native yes yes
Bahrain extant vagrant yes
Bangladesh extant native yes
Belarus extant vagrant yes
Benin extant native yes
Bosnia and Herzegovina extant native yes
Botswana extant native yes
Bulgaria extant native yes yes
Burkina Faso extant native yes
Burundi extant native yes
Cameroon extant native yes yes
Central African Republic extant native yes
Chad extant native yes yes
Congo extant native yes
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the extant native yes
Côte d'Ivoire extant native yes
Croatia extant vagrant
Cyprus extant native yes yes
Czechia extant vagrant
Denmark extant vagrant
Djibouti extant native yes
Egypt extant native yes
Eritrea extant native yes
Eswatini extant vagrant
Ethiopia extant native yes yes
Finland extant vagrant
France extant vagrant
Gabon extant native yes
Gambia extant native yes
Georgia extant native yes
Ghana extant native yes
Greece extant native yes yes
Guinea extant native yes
Guinea-Bissau extant native yes
Hungary extinct native yes
India extant native yes yes
Iran, Islamic Republic of extant native yes yes
Iraq extant native yes
Israel extant native yes yes
Jordan extant native yes
Kazakhstan extant native yes
Kenya extant native yes
Kuwait extant native yes yes
Kyrgyzstan extant native yes
Latvia extant vagrant
Lebanon extant native yes
Libya extant vagrant
Malawi extant native yes
Maldives extant vagrant
Mali extant native yes
Malta extant vagrant
Mauritania extant native yes
Montenegro possibly extinct native yes
Morocco extant vagrant
Mozambique extant native yes
Myanmar extant native yes
Namibia extant native yes
Netherlands extant vagrant
Niger extant native yes
Nigeria extant native yes yes
North Macedonia extant native yes
Norway extant vagrant
Oman extant vagrant yes
Pakistan extant native yes yes
Palestine extant native yes
Poland extant vagrant
Portugal extant vagrant
Romania extant native yes yes
Russia extant native yes yes
Russia (European) extant native yes yes
Rwanda extant native yes
Saudi Arabia extant native yes yes
Senegal extant native yes
Serbia possibly extinct native yes
Sierra Leone extant native yes
Slovenia extant vagrant
Somalia extant native yes
South Africa extant native yes yes
South Sudan extant native yes
Spain extant vagrant
Sri Lanka extant uncertain
Sudan extant native yes
Switzerland extant vagrant
Syria extant native yes
Tanzania extant native yes yes
Togo extant native yes
Tunisia extant vagrant
Türkiye extant native yes yes
Turkmenistan extant native yes yes
Uganda extant native yes
Ukraine extant native yes yes
United Arab Emirates extant vagrant yes
Uzbekistan extant native yes
Western Sahara extant vagrant
Yemen extant native yes
Zambia extant native yes
Zimbabwe extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Azerbaijan Kura Delta
Azerbaijan Sangachal Bay
Türkiye Kocaçay Delta
Türkiye Seyfe Lake
Türkiye Aktaş Lake
Greece Evros delta
Greece Prespa National Park and Varnountas mountains
Greece Lake Kerkini
Ukraine Sasyk lake
Russia (European) Dadynskiye lakes
Botswana Okavango Delta
Botswana Lake Ngami
Botswana Makgadikgadi Pans
Cameroon Waza National Park
Egypt Lake Nasser
Kenya Tana River Delta
Kenya Lake Elmenteita
Kenya Lake Nakuru National Park
Mali Lac Débo - Lac Oualado Débo
Mali Séri
Namibia Etosha National Park
South Sudan Sudd (Bahr-el-Jebel system)
Tanzania Lake Manyara
Tanzania Lake Eyasi
Tanzania Lake Rukwa
Uganda Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake George
Zambia Kafue Flats
Ukraine Karkinits'ka and Dzharylgats'ka bays
Ukraine Yagorlyts'ka and Tendrivs'ka Bays
Ukraine Kytaj lake
Ukraine River Danube
Ukraine Stentsivs'ko-Zhebriyanivs'ki plavni
Afghanistan Hamun-i-Puzak
Israel Judean foothills
Israel Southern Arava valley and Elat mountains
Israel Zevulun valley
Israel Carmel coast
Israel Jezre'el, Harod and Bet She'an valleys
Israel Hefer valley
Iran, Islamic Republic of Nowruzlu and Ghazanlu
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lake Uromiyeh
Iran, Islamic Republic of Arjan Protected Area
Iran, Islamic Republic of Shur Gol, Yadegarlu and Dorgeh Sangi lakes
Iran, Islamic Republic of Hamoun-i Sabari and Hamoun-i Hirmand
Zambia Mweru Wantipa National Park
Pakistan Kirthar National Park (including Hub Dam)
India Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary
India Bardha Dam
India Saman Bird Sanctuary
India Sauj Lake
Kazakhstan Irgiz-Turgay Lakes
Kazakhstan Naurzum State Nature Reserve
Kazakhstan Sorbulak Lake System
Afghanistan Ab-i-Istada
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lake Bakhtegan, Lake Tashk and Kamjan marshes
Bulgaria Burgasko Lake
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex
Kazakhstan Ili River Delta
Uzbekistan Sudochye Lake
Uzbekistan Tudakul and Kuymazar Reservoirs
Uzbekistan Zholdyrbas Lake
Uzbekistan Dzheiran Ecocentre
Turkmenistan Sarygamysh
Turkmenistan Nargyz
Kazakhstan Sarykopa Lake System
Kazakhstan Akzhar Lakes
Kazakhstan Lesser Aral Sea
Kazakhstan Shoshkaly Lake System
Kazakhstan Teniz-Karakamys Lakes
Russia (European) Lysyi Liman lake and valley of Vostochniy Manych river
Uzbekistan Northern shore of Aydarkul Lake
Kazakhstan Tentek River Delta
Türkiye Ereğli Plain
Türkiye Tuz Lake
Türkiye Akşehir and Eber Lakes
Türkiye Amanos Mountains
Türkiye Burdur Lake
Türkiye Manyas Lake (Kuş Lake)
Türkiye Uluabat Lake
Türkiye Bendimahi Delta
Uzbekistan Talimardzhan Reservoir
Romania Danube Delta
Romania Iezerul Călăraşi
Romania Lake Bugeac
Romania Prut river flood-plain - Vlădeşti - Frumuşiţa
Romania Lake Brateş
Romania Lake Dunăreni
Romania Lake Oltina
Romania Lake Mostiştea
Romania Măcin - Niculiţel
Romania Lake Beibugeac (Plopu)
Romania Lake Siutghiol
Romania Lake Taşaul
Uzbekistan Akpetky lakes and surrounding Aralkum Desert
Uzbekistan Ayakaghytma lake and surrounding desert
India Kaj Lake (Pipalava Bandharo)
Russia (European) Islands in the western part of Lake Manych-Gudilo
Sierra Leone Yawri Bay
Senegal Djoudj wetlands
Senegal Kalissaye Avifaunal Reserve
Mauritania Banc d'Arguin National Park
Mauritania Diawling National Park
South Africa iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes/Pools major non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes/Pools major breeding
Altitude 0 - 1372 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance, Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - non-trivial recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Pelecanus onocrotalus. Downloaded from on 04/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/12/2023.