Rhea americana


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Rhea americana
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Greater Rhea, Lesser Rhea, Common Rhea
Spanish Avestruz, Ñandú, Ñandú Común

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Symes, A., Benstead, P., Capper, D., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J
This species qualifies as Near Threatened as its population is believed to have declined at a rate approaching the threshold for classification as Vulnerable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Rhea americana has a large range in north-east and south-east Brazil, east Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and north-east and east Argentina south to 40°S (Folch 1992). It has declined markedly and the healthiest populations are now believed to be in parts of the Chaco region (Folch 1992).

Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Paraguay; Uruguay
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon to fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It typically occurs in pampas, campo cerrado and open chaco woodland, normally in areas with some tall grassland and other vegetation, but also in open grassland and cultivated fields, at elevations up to 1,200 m (Canevari et al. 1991, Folch 1992, Sick 1993, Parker et al. 1996). Population densities in grassland are several times that in agricultural areas, and birds were found to occupy 51% of a grassland area, but less than 5% of an agricultural locality (Giordano et al. 2008).  For breeding, it prefers areas adjacent to rivers, lakes and marshes (Folch 1992).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its status is obfuscated by the presence of feral birds (Lowen et al. 1996), but it has declined markedly partly owing to hunting for meat and the colossal export of skins. Over 50,000 skins were traded in 1980, most apparently originating in Paraguay, with Japan and USA leading consumers (Folch 1992). In recent years, the large-scale conversion of central South American grasslands for agriculture and cattle-ranching (da Silva 1995) has considerably reduced and fragmented its available habitat, particularly in the pampas and cerrado strongholds.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor levels of illegal domestic and international trade. Effectively enforce restrictions on hunting and trade (Bellis et al. 2004). Include pastures and grasslands in agricultural ecosystems (Bellis et al. 2004). Preserve remaining natural habitat (Bellis et al. 2008, Giordano et al. 2010).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Rhea americana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 September 2015.
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