Energy requirements of a Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) population and its impact on fish stocks



The Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus is a major predator of some freshwater fish stocks in much of Africa. Detailed population time-activity budgets allowed us to estimate that the south-western Cape Province population consumed 184 tonnes offish annually. Of this, 69% was required for adult existence, 17% for chicks and 14% for flight. Per capita consumption averaged 840 g per day, or 8–8% of body weight; very much less than the figure of 17–6% used in some energy budget calculations. Our integrative bioenergetics approach lends some support for the use of 10% of body weight as the amount of food consumed per day by large piscivorous birds for initial estimates of their impact on stocks.

Predation by Great white pelicans may account for some 10–25% offish production, a shortage of reliable data on fish production in African freshwater ecosystems makes a more precise estimate impossible. Food supplies and shoreline length may both be important factors for pelican populations.