Habitat and biology of the White-bellied Heron in Bhutan

Posted on 15 May 2008


Location: Punakha, Wangduphodrang, Tsirang, Dagana, Zhemgang, Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtsi, Sarbang, Samtse, Chukha and Ha areas.
Grantee: Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN)

Location: Punakha, Wangduphodrang, Tsirang, Dagana, Zhemgang, Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtsi, Sarbang, Samtse, Chukha and Ha areas.
Grantee: Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN)


The main purpose of the project is to assist in improving the conservation status of the White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) and its habitat in Bhutan.

The White-bellied Heron is one of the rarest bird species in the world today. Its small and rapidly declining population has put the bird on the list of Critically Endangered species. The loss and degradation of lowland forest and wetlands, and direct disturbance is likely to decrease numbers further.

The White-bellied Heron is known to be present across the Eastern Himalayan foothills in Bhutan and northeast India, the hills of Bangladesh, north Myanmar and historically across west and central Myanmar. Population surveys carried out in twelve districts in Bhutan (Punakha, Wangduphodrang, Tshirang, Dagadzong, Zhemgang, Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangshi, Sarbang, Samtchi, Chukha and Lower Ha) revealed a total of 30 herons until July 2007. Eight nests were spotted between 2005 and 2007.

Although monitoring of the species will continue, scientific research on the bird’s reproductive biology, gene pool and habitat selection preferences are essential to design conservation strategies for the survival of the species. RSPN’s project is expected to,
• acquire scientific data and information on the ecology and potential threats to the White-bellied Heron,
• accord conservation status to important White-bellied Heron sites and develop a five-year strategic plan,
• establish effective community-based conservation programmes in and around the bird habitat,
• increase awareness of stakeholders and local communities on the global significance of the species, and
• build the capacity of stakeholders and communities on monitoring and protection of the White-bellied Heron and its habitat.

For more information contact rpradhan@rspnbhutan.org or tlhamtshok@rspnbhutan.org.