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Esacus recurvirostris

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES CHARADRIIFORMES BURHINIDAE

Scientific Name: Esacus recurvirostris
Species Authority: (Cuvier, 1829)
Common Name(s):
English Great Thick-knee, Great Stone-curlew
Synonym(s):
Burhinus recurvirostris recurvirostris Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
Taxonomic Notes: The retention of the genus Esacus follows Andrew (1992) contra Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), because its merger with Burhinus does not do justice to the highly distinctive nature of Burhinus (=Esacus) giganteus and B. (=E.) recurvirostris, both of which have massive bills, strong black-and-white facial markings, and simplified dorsal patterning, all three of these characters being absent in other burhinids.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Srinivasan, S., Krishnan, A., Duckworth, J.W., Thompson, P., Jayadevan, P., Claassen, A., Robson, C., Timmins, R., Porter, R., Goes, F., Baral, H. & Inskipp, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Symes, A.
Justification:
This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened on the basis that it is expected to undergo a moderately rapid population decline over the next three generations owing to human pressures on riverine ecosystems and the construction of dams. It has already undergone precipitous declines in South-East Asia but its status currently appears more secure in India.
History:
2012 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Esacus recurvirostris occurs across a wide range in southern Asia, being found in Iran, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Formerly numerous, in Bangladesh there have been hardly any sightings in the last 20 years (P. Thompson in litt. 2013), while in Nepal it has declined in range and population and may now be restricted to the Koshi Barrage area, with the national population now possibly as low as ten individuals (C. Inskipp & H. S. Baral in litt. 2013). The recent status in Myanmar is poorly-known, but it has disappeared from Bagan since 1995 (C. Robson in litt. 2013), although the country still contains large tracts of potentially suitable habitat. In Laos the major losses occurred decades ago but declines have continued (surveys in 1997-2004 found a large population in the Mekong between Vientiane and Louangphabang, but an intensive survey there in 2011-2012 found no birds), and national extinction seems likely (J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2013). It remains more numerous on the Indian subcontinent, where it prefers larger rivers but also occurs on still water, but declines are believed to have taken place here too (P. Jayadevan in litt. 2013).
Countries:
Native:
Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam
Vagrant:
Oman
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 1,000-25,000 individuals, roughly equating to 670-17,000 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It favours riverbed shingle and rocks, stony banks and mud around large lakes, but sometimes visits nearby grassy flats and also occurs infrequently on coastal beaches and estuaries. It is largely sedentary, but undergoes local movements forced by rising water levels (del Hoyo et al.1996).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Nest predation by dogs, disturbance by fishermen and domestic animals, and opportunistic harvesting has caused chronically low breeding success of riverine nesting birds throughout South-East Asia (Goes in press). In Nepal the species is seriously threatened by disturbance and the degradation and loss of its riverine habitat. The multitude of hydroelectric dam projects completed, underway and planned on large rivers in its range, which threaten to alter flow regimes and inundate nesting habitat downstream, is now perhaps the most significant threat across much of the range. On the Sesan and Sekong rivers in Cambodia, the species has nearly disappeared (A. Claassen in litt. 2013). This recent precipitous decline on the Sesan is probably due to upstream Vietnamese dams (sudden water level rises inundating nests), and imminent extinction there seems unavoidable, and with further dams planned the fate of the small Sekong population does not seem more promising, even if appropriate conservation actions are implemented (Goes in press). Planned hydro-power dams on the main Mekong channel in southern Laos, at Stung Treng and Sambor (Kratie) would lead to major alteration of flood regimes and river ecology if built, and could arguably lead to regional extinction in the medium term (Goes in press).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation and research actions in place
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species, although some of its habitat is protected.

Conservation and research actions proposed
There is urgent need for nest-protection programmes and monitoring of human activities during the dry season. Carry out regular surveys to monitor population trends throughout its range. Quantify the severity and impact of threats across its range. Carry out awareness-raising activities to alleviate human pressures on riverine ecosystems, and lobby against high-impact dam projects. Increase the area of suitable habitat that receives effective protection.

Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Esacus recurvirostris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 18 September 2014.
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