Migrating pelicans get a free lunch

A visit from tens of thousands of migrating pelicans may be a gift for birdwatchers, but for Israeli fish farmers, it can be costly.

The Israeli authorities have taken to feeding the birds, which are migrating from southern Europe to spend the winter in central Africa, to preserve the farms' stocks.

The idea is to centralise the pelicans' feeding ground so the birds do not harm the livelihood of farmers by poaching fish from nearby farms.

The pelicans are fed six tonnes of fish three to four times a week at a reservoir in Mishmar Hasharon, central Israel, during the three months they are flying over Israel. Around 75,000 to 100,000 birds are estimated to pass over Israel each year.

"When they pass here, they cause a lot of damage," said Afikei Emek Hefer Communal Water Company's chief executive Zvika Gerber.

"They eat here and in the north, and then they have enough food to continue to the south of Sudan."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'Migrating pelicans get a free lunch'. Print Edition | Subscribe