Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae

Scientific Name: Mycteria leucocephala
Species Authority: (Pennant, 1769)
Common Name(s):
English Painted Stork
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

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.
Contributor(s): vanZalinge, R. & Mahood, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Taylor, J., Allinson, T
Although one of the most abundant of the Asian storks, this species is classified as Near Threatened because it is thought to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing primarily to hunting, wetland drainage and pollution.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Near Threatened (NT)
2006 Near Threatened (NT)
2004 Near Threatened (NT)
2000 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
1994 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Mycteria leucocephala occurs in Pakistan (scarce; mainly confined to the Indus delta region), Nepal (rare in terai; mainly a summer visitor), India (widespread and locally common resident), Bangladesh (former resident, now a straggler to coastal regions), Sri Lanka (locally abundant, particularly in the dry zone), China (previously a common summer visitor in south, probably breeding, but now rare and possibly extinct), Myanmar (former resident in central region and visitor throughout; current status unknown but clearly rare), Thailand (previously common breeder in south, now on verge of extinction, small numbers recorded sporadically elsewhere), Laos (previously widespread, now rare), Vietnam (formerly widespread resident, now a rare non-breeding visitor), Cambodia (local resident, 4-5,000 pairs breeding at Prek Toal, Tonle Sap Lake) and Peninsular Malaysia (previously regular, now a vagrant). There are an estimated 15,000 individuals in South Asia and fewer than 10,000 in South-East Asia (Perennou et al. 1994), with populations declining throughout. Although it is considered one of the most numerous and secure of Asian storks, this is more a reflection of the rarity and endangerment of most storks in the region, than the security of this species.

Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam
Possibly extinct:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 1930000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Perennou et al. (1994) estimated populations of 15,000 individuals in south Asia, and fewer than 10,000 individuals in South-East Asia, thus there are estimated to be a total of 15,000-25,000 individuals in total, roughly equivalent to 10,000-17,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  There are no data on population trends; however, the species is suspected to be declining at a moderately rapid rate, owing to hunting, drainage and pollution.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 10000-17000 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It frequents freshwater marshes, lakes and reservoirs, flooded fields, rice paddies, freshwater swamp forest, river banks, intertidal mudflats and saltpans.

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 8.4
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The increasing impacts of habitat loss, disturbance, pollution, wetland drainage and the hunting of adults and collection of eggs and nestlings from colonies are cause for concern. Hybridisation between free-flying Painted Storks and Milky Storks M. cinerea at Singapore Zoo has apparently produced reproductively viable offspring, raising the question of whether these hybrids could pose a threat if they crossed over into mainland South-East Asia (Yong D. L. in litt. 2011), or if the rare interbreeding of these species observed in the wild (J. C. Eames in litt. 2011) could also be a threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in a number of protected areas. Since 2004 the colony at Prek Toal, Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia, has been successfully protected and monitored by MoE staff who work with former egg collectors. Data derived from tree-top platform based counts indicate that the population has grown from 1,000 to 2,300 nests from 2004 to 2011. However, overflights of the colony suggest that only 50% is visible from platforms, so there are now likely to be 4-5,000 nesting pairs (S. Mahood in litt. 2012). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Regularly monitor known colonies throughout the species range. Ensure complete and permanent protection of all breeding congregations. Encourage farming systems that create and not destroy suitable foraging habitat. Mitigate against development schemes which destroy sites where it is found. Conduct awareness campaigns involving local residents to engender pride in the species and other large waterbirds and prevent hunting.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Mycteria leucocephala. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22697658A37857363. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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