White-bellied Heron

A Heron on the Brink of Extinction

The white-bellied heron is a Critically Endangered bird which is listed among the top 100 EDGE („Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered“) species. It is on the verge of extinction with a potential global population of less than 250 mature individuals. The second largest heron species is endemic to South Asia, with recent records from Bhutan, Northeast India, Myanmar, Southwestern China and Northeast India. It is presumed to be extinct in Nepal and Bangladesh.

The main threats for the white-bellied heron are presumed to be widespread loss, degradation and disturbance of forest and wetlands. Furthermore the species is also very sensitive to human disturbance.

In India, Namdapha Tiger Reserve is the only area that the white-bellied heron is known to occupy consistently. In 2019, there was a camera trap record at Kamlang Tiger Reserve – a potentially suitable breeding habitat lying adjacent to Namdapha Tiger Reserve. However, Kamlang TR remains otherwise largely unsurveyed, and it is not known whether the species is regularly present there, let alone breeding. Surveys in suitable white-bellied heron habitat have been extremely patchy Furthermore, very little is known overall about its ecology, including habitat preference, nesting and feeding habits, and dispersal behaviour.

Samiran Patgiri from the Mizoram University will address the paucity of data on the species and assess the scale of human-induced threats and their possible effect on the white-bellied heron population.
The study’s outputs will enable strategic conservation action of the species, including site protection and threat reduction, awareness raising and education with local communities.

Overall goals of the project are:

Documentation of distribution, occurrence and habitat use in the Namdapha and Kamlang Tiger Reserves

Collection of in-depth ecological data on the species and its associated habitats

Understanding the possible effects of habitat change and anthropogenic pressure on the white-bellied heron

Planned activities:

Identification of white-bellied heron (nesting) sites, using satellite imagery and expert consultation

Understanding of the seasonal patterns of occurrence, distribution and habitat use through camera trapping and direct observation

Detailed mapping of land use and land cover, identification of human use patterns

IUCN SSC White-bellied Heron Working Group (hosted by Synchronicity Earth, UK) is the project partner in this project. The project is being co-funded by Synchronicity Earth, Oriental Bird Club und Waterbird Society.


Project information

White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis)

Projektort: Indiea

Implementierender Partner: Samiran Patgiri, Mizoram University

Projektdauer:  January 2021 - January 2022