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Namdapha National Park, India

(Ardea insignis)

IUCN status : Critically endangered

White Bellied Herons are declared as Critically Endangered in the Red List of IUCN since it’s population is less than 250 matured individuals in the wild. However due it’s presence in the remotest and inaccessible corner of India a proper census was never carried out. They are found in the wetlands of tropical and subtropical forests in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas of India and Myanmar. It also occurs in Bhutan's sub-tropical areas and was once found in Nepal. It is estimated that fewer than 50 matured individuals exist in the wild. Breeding in captivity appears to be a farfetched reality since experimenting with such thin population may prove to be fatal. The birds were found to build a nest at Namdapha National Park couple of years back which raised hope. Unfortunately the nest was very near a water body and was soon washed away by the gushing streams during the monsoon.

White Bellied Herons pair for life. Probably such thin population, force them to do so. It is the second largest heron in the world with height reaching up to 125-130 cm. Due to such elegant size they are also called Imperial Herons. Presently, the biggest threat to the Herons are Habitat loss, poaching and illegal hunting.

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