It can be hard to be alone, hurt and abandoned by your own kind. How are you supposed to learn what you need to know in order to survive?
Luckily, for one bird, having some human friends was the answer.
After a powerful storm over Lake Tanganyika—the longest freshwater lake in the world (410 miles) and the second deepest (4,710 feet) after Lake Baikal in Russia, touching territory in four African nations: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Zambia—a three-month-old, male great white pelican got separated from his flock. He stumbled ashore and was taken in by the staff of Greystoke Mahale, a safari camp in Tanzania.
The camp’s staff nursed him back to health. Jeffrey, Greystoke Mahale’s manager, took the pelican out each morning to fish and developed an unusual friendship with the bird. Staffers weren’t sure how much flying the pelican may have done before arriving at the camp, but they noticed he was pretty shaky in his attempts on the beach. They began encouraging him to take off by running up and down the beach and flapping their arms. The bird’s first flights were short and uncontrolled, causing the staff to look away when he was landing. He seemed unable to distinguish between airspeed and ground speed, and would come in way too fast.
Eventually, though, the pelican caught on, got some more experience and took his first successful flight.
Watch the video below of this special pelican’s triumphant airborne tour around the lake, taken by a GoPro camera that was temporarily strapped to his bill.
Sometimes, all you need to get back on your feet—or on the wing, in this case!—is the kindness of strangers and a little encouragement.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,