WATCH | These great white pelicans have got the scoop on paradise
The sun peeks over the horizon, rousing a pod of great white pelicans. It’s breakfast time, and these birds never miss the most important meal of the day.
After lapping up a few cichlids, the fleet takes off. They assemble into their positions and pierce the dewy air like a sharpened arrow.
Disappearing into the distance, they’re searching for pelican paradise.
The great white pelican enjoys a nomadic lifestyle, chasing idyllic sunsets and islets. Widely scattered across the swamps of Africa, colonies migrate to eastern Europe and Asia during breeding season.
A social species, these birds do everything together, especially feed and fly. Despite being one of the world’s largest birds, they’re surprisingly agile in the sky.
Once airborne, a flock of about 20 birds gather in V-formation. The technique reduces drag during flight, conserving their energy on long journeys.
Arriving at the Rondevlei Nature Reserve in Cape Town, they splash into the protected wetland and gear up for a day of feasting and lazing about.
Working together, these tactical hunters use their bodies as a barricade to drive a miscellany of crustaceans and fish into the shallows, making them easy prey.
Although their gular pouches are thought to be a handy Tupperware to store leftover food, they are in fact giant nets that can catch up to four kilograms of fish.
When dipping their tapered bills below the surface, these sacks expand to scoop up a hefty mouthful which is then gulped down whole. Bellies bursting, they return to the shore to do what they love most – roost.
The great white pelican is not vulnerable, but human activity is threatening their laidback way of life.
Hazardous pollutants from industrial areas and farms trickle into fresh water systems, making their foraging grounds toxic.
This disrupts their breeding sites, and in turn hinders the colony’s ability to reproduce.
We shouldn’t wait until a species is on the brink to protect them. To keep these magnificent creatures frolicking in paradise, we must clean up our act.