Russian authorities in the southern province of Dagestan are scrambling to save hundreds of rare Dalmatian pelicans after the Caspian Sea froze over for the first time in years.
The endangered, grey-white birds with distinctive curly feathers at their napes migrated to a rare patch of unfrozen water at a shipyard near Dagestan’s capital city of Makhachkala, the Associated Press reported, arriving from the frozen deltas of the Volga and Terek rivers up north.
About 20 birds have already died of hunger, despite the hundreds of pounds of fish that the province’s Nature Protection Ministry has been buying daily to feed them, a ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
As fishing in the iced-over Caspian remains impossible, the birds are being fed locally-bought sprats.
The Dalmatian pelicans are the world’s largest variety of pelican. Around 1,400 of them are thought to live in southern Russia, according to the BBC.
Authorities at the shipyard did not immediately grant access to local residents keen to help officials in their efforts to feed the birds, citing concerns that some well-meaning citizens had brought bread and other foods unsuitable for pelicans.
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