Photo: © Sebastian Bugariu / SOR

A Danube Delta-based educational camp held in June saw over 50 participants from four countries come together to learn more about Dalmatian pelicans – and the important role that rewilding can play in recovering populations of this iconic bird across Europe.

Coordinated by Rewilding Europe, the Pelican Way of LIFE initiative is a pan-European, multi-partner initiative to boost populations of the Dalmatian pelican along the Black-Sea Mediterranean Flyway, which is home to around 50% of the global population. As part of the initiative, efforts have been carried out to reduce direct mortality from collisions with power lines, enhance nesting conditions, and increase support for the growth of Dalmatian pelican populations across Europe.

© Sebastian Bugariu / SOR

To reconnect children with nature – and teach them more about Dalmatian pelicans and rewilding – a Pelican Education Camp was held at the end of June on the Romanian side of the Danube Delta rewilding landscape. A group of 40 secondary school children from Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, and Ukraine were welcomed to the camp, which was based in the traditional Romanian fishing village of Sfantu Gheorghe. The Danube Delta is one of the strongholds of the Dalmatian Pelican – the camp’s wide-ranging and immersive programme saw the children witness these majestic birds in the wild, as well as other iconic delta wildlife. They also learned first-hand about supporting the growth of Europe’s Dalmatian pelican population and the important role that the birds play in healthy wetlands.

The children visiting the pelican camp were aged between 12 and 18. They were accompanied by educators from each of the four countries, allowing the latter to gain knowledge and inspiration for similar future events, as well as knowledge and skills related to practical rewilding.

© Sebastian Bugariu / SOR

The camp programme was led by conservation practitioners from all the partner organisations of the Pelican Way Of LIFE initiative: Rewilding Europe, Romanian Ornithological Society, Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, Persina Nature Park Directorate, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Rewilding Ukraine. In addition to interactive lectures, wildlife-watching field trips and interesting practical exercises, the children were divided into teams and tasked with investigating threats and opportunities around pelican conservation, introducing concepts such as viable populations, habitats and landscapes. The children gained practical experience and enhanced their presentation, storytelling, language, photography, and information handling skills. At the end of the camp they developed their own rewilding projects and presented them as group theatre plays. They were then encouraged to carry out parts of these projects on their return home.