Srebarna Nature Reserve

An El Dorado for the Dalmatian Pelican

  • Location: Srebarna, Vetren and Aydemir village, Silistra district, Bulgaria
  • Size: 892,052 hectares
  • Established: 1992

The Dalmatian pelican spreads its wings and with a few majestic wing beats soars to the sky, leaving its ever hungry offspring in the nest in order to find the food they're so eagerly longing for. The name Srebarna most likely comes from the silvery (Bulgarian ‘srebro’) reflections on the lake's surface during full moon.“The El Dorado for the marsh birds”, as Austrian voyager Felix Kanz called it when he first visited the Srebarna Lake, has been well studied since then. The first scientific information about the area belongs to another Austrian ornithologist, Eduard Hodek, who visited the lake in 1880.

Because of its extremely rich bird fauna and its function as Bulgaria’s only remaining breeding ground of threatened species such as the Dalmatian Pelican, Srebarna Lake was designated as a Monument of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a Ramsar site and an Important Bird Area. Although the connection with the Danube River was interrupted because of a dyke built in 1948, restoration activities carried out in 1993 reconnected the lake with the Danube and positively influenced the biodiversity of the reserve.

The vast Srebarna Lake area is located on the Via Pontica, a bird migration route between Europe and Africa and covers several unique landscape types like standing waters, natural lakes, rivers with muddy banks, steppe and grasslands, plains and mountains, alluvial forests, Pannonian woods and Moesian silver lime woods. The dominant plant is the reed, which occupies about two-thirds of the reserve's total surface area, followed by the lesser reed mace. Of all 139 plant species present in the reserve, 11 are rare or endangered.