This project investigated the state of Sint Maarten’s brown pelican population for improved management of the species and its habitat.
EPIC worked to improve the management of natural resources for the preservation of biodiversity on Sint Maarten, particularly Sint Maarten’s brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis) population and associated habitats. The last assessment of the nesting success of the colony at Fort Amsterdam by EPIC was over ten years ago. Since that time, the number of Pelican nests had shown a downward trend, with an 85% decline in breeding activity between 2000 and 2010. The deteriorating numbers are suspected to be related to the development of the area and to potential recent botulism outbreaks. In addition, disturbance of the nesting colony was an ongoing threat so outreach efforts were needed to inform the public of best practices to reduce or eliminate disturbances, pollution, and the impacts from continuous development of new sites.
Project activities included monitoring nesting pelicans and ecotoxicology analysis of samples for pollutants and botulism. There was also a communication and awareness-raising component of the project that includes presentations to schools, installation of educational signs, printing posters for operators with near-shore activities that include best practices, and conducting other outreach activities for the broader community including visiting tourists. Finally, a manual for pelican conservation was developed and provided to key decision-makers.
The project took place during 2022-2023, and the project team included Gaia Piccaluga and Filippo Milani, experienced in wildlife management, conservation and control, and Margot Mesnard, Project Coordinator with a background in environmental management for island states. This project was funded by the United Nations SPAW/RAC, Prins Bernhard Culture Fund, and The Dutch Representation Office in Sint Maarten.