Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Pelecaniformes Pelecanidae

Scientific Name: Pelecanus rufescens
Species Authority: Gmelin, 1789
Common Name(s):
English Pink-backed Pelican
French Pélican gris
Taxonomic Source(s): 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. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:
Israel; Jordan; Lebanon; Poland
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 14100000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour This species makes little known (Ogilvie 1997) dispersive movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Nelson 2005) related to water conditions (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is locally nomadic in southern Africa in response to changing wetland conditions (Barnes 2000), and western African populations make northward movements into sub-Saharan steppe during the wet season, returning southwards in the dry season (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993). The species breeds all year round, although most start late in the wet season (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005). It is gregarious both during breeding and non-breeding (Langrand 1990), nesting in small groups or larger loose colonies of between 20 and 500 pairs (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Ogilvie 1997) (often alongside other species (Langrand 1990, Nelson 2005)). It roosts nocturnally in groups (Johnsgard 1993), but is more of a solitary feeder, preferring to fish singly or in small loose groups of less than 30 individuals (Langrand 1990, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005). It is chiefly diurnally active, especially during the morning and evening, although it may also fish on moonlit nights (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990). Habitat The species inhabits a wide range of aquatic habitats, but prefers to feed in quiet backwaters and weed-grown lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1992) where there is shallow water and emergent vegetation (Langrand 1990), generally avoiding steep, vegetated lake margins (Nelson 2005). It shows a preference for freshwater lakes, swamps, large slow-flowing rivers, and seasonal pools (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005), but also frequents reservoirs (Brown et al. 1982, Johnsgard 1993), seasonally flooded land (Nelson 2005) and flood-plains near river mouths (Ogilvie 1997). It may occur on alkaline and saline lakes and lagoons (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005), and can sometimes be found along the coast in bays (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and estuaries (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990, Nelson 2005) (although seldom on open seashore) (Brown et al. 1982, Nelson 2005). The species tends to roost and breed in trees (e.g. mangroves), but will also roost on sandy islands, cliffs, coral reefs and sand-dunes (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Nesting trees are often killed by repeated nesting, which forces breeding colonies to move (although birds will usually not move far) (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet The diet of this species consists entirely of fish (of any size up to 450 g, although usually in the range of 80-290 g) (Nelson 2005), with cichlids (especially Haplochromis and Tilapia) being preferred (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005). Breeding site The species nests colonially in trees, reeds or low bushes along waterfronts (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Nelson 2005) as well as (less often) on the ground on sandy islands and in mangroves (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Nelson 2005). The nest is small and constructed of sticks (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and may be situated at elevations of 10-50 m above the ground (Johnsgard 1993). A single tree may contain many nests (Nelson 2005) that can be very close together (often touching) (Ogilvie 1997), and a single pair will refurbish and re-use the same nest from year to year if it has not collapsed (Nelson 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 15.4
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened by habitat loss in KwaZulu-Natal, as many suitable pans and flood-plains are being altered through drainage and cultivation, and the natural flooding regime of pans in the Pongolo system has been altered by the Jozini Dam (Barnes 2000). In southern Africa disturbance of the species is increasing at estuaries as these areas become more intensively used and developed (Barnes 2000). The species is also susceptible to bioaccumulation of toxins in their body tissue, which may lead to a decline in reproductive success (Barnes 2000). Destruction of nesting trees due to logging activities may be a local problem (Ogilvie 1997).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Pelecanus rufescens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22697595A40285105. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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