Ciconia episcopus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae

Scientific Name: Ciconia episcopus (Boddaert, 1783)
Common Name(s):
English Asian Woollyneck, White-necked Stork, Woolly-necked Stork
French Cigogne épiscopale
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. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Taxonomic Notes: Ciconia episcopus and C. microscelis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as C. episcopus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).
Identification information: 86-95cm. Large mostly glossy-black stork with distinctive gleaming white, almost fluffy, neck, and white lower belly and tail. Face is bald, with bluish-grey skin, and the black cap in neat and glossy in contrast to the neck feathers. Bill is long and sharp, mostly black with a reddish tip. Legs are orange-red. Similar spp. C. microscelis of tropical Africa has a black feathered face and less clear distinction between the crown and neck feathers; also the legs are dark.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd+3cd+4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Baral, H., Duckworth, J.W., Goes, F., Gray, T., Inskipp, C., Jayadevan, P., Jensen, A., Mahood, S., Martin, R, Nameer, P.O., Rainey, H., Subramanya, S., Timmins, R.J. & Hornskov, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L., Martin, R, Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.
This recently split species is listed as Vulnerable because it is suspected to be undergoing a rapid population decline owing mainly to habitat loss and persecution.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ciconia episcopus is found patchily across South Asia and South East Asia. Its range extends from Pakistan (where it is now very rare) through India, lowland Sri Lanka, Nepal (where it is widespread within its altitudinal range [Inskipp et al. 2016]), Bhutan, Bangladesh  and south-east through MyanmarThailand, LaosCambodiaViet Nam, Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines, and Sumatra and Java, Indonesia (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Grimmett et al. 1998, Robson 2008). Non-breeders have also been observed in Iran (Porter and Aspinal 2010). Steep declines have been noted since the mid 20th century in South-East Asia, including in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia (J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2013, 2016, R. J. Timmins in litt. 2013, F. Goes in litt. 2014). Populations in Laos in the 1990s were a fraction of those in the first half of the 20th century (Thewlis et al. 1998). Declines are assumed to have continued in the 2000s–2010s, but information regarding this is fragmentary (J.W. Duckworth in litt. 2016). In the Philippines, the species appears to have become extirpated or near-extirpated from Luzon (A. Jensen in litt. 2013). The population in South Asia appears to be stable overall (Nameer et al. 2015, Praveen J. in litt. 2014, S. Subramanya in litt. 2014), with some evidence of local declines e.g. Nepal, though its distribution there was unchanged post-1990 compared to pre-1990 (Inskipp et al. 2016, H. Baral and C. Inskipp in litt. 2014).
Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Philippines; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam
China; Iran, Islamic Republic of
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:18900000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):1400
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population has been estimated to number up to 35,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2014), although further research is required.

Trend Justification:  The overall population is suspected to be in rapid decline, although this is largely a result of substantial declines in South-East Asia (J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2013, R. J. Timmins in litt. 2013, F. Goes in litt. 2014), with populations in South Asia appearing to be stable (Praveen J. in litt. 2014, S. Subramanya in litt. 2014), and other populations with unknown trends (Wetlands International 2014).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour In India the species tends to breed during the rains (Hancock et al. 1992) (between July and September in the south and December to March in the north). The species breeds in solitary pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1992). When not breeding the species is normally seen solitarily or in pairs, but will gather in flocks up to at least 80 at permanent natural or man-made wetlands in dry landscapes (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Pande et al. 2007). Habitat The species shows a preference for natural wetland habitats (Sundar 2006) in savanna and grassland, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, water-holes, lagoons, dams, flood plains, marshes, and freshwater and peat swamp forests (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although it will also use artificial habitats such as rice paddy-fields, flooded pastures, and cultivated fields (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is regular in light woodland or forest clearings in Indochina (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It also frequents coastal mudflats or coral reefs (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and can be found up to 1,400 m in Sulawesi and 1,250 m in Nepal (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Grimmett et al. 1998). Diet The species is predominantly carnivorous, its diet consisting of fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, large insects and larvae (del Hoyo et al. 1992), crabs, molluscs and marine invertebrates (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a large stick platform built 10-30 m (and sometimes up to 50 m) above the ground or over water, on a fork of a horizontal branch in a tall tree (Hancock et al. 1992, del Hoyo et al. 1992). It may make local movements upwards along river courses in search of nest sites (H. S. Baral and C. Inskipp in litt. 2016).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):15.9
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): A major threat to this species in South East Asia is hunting (Hancock et al. 1992, J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2016). The species is also threatened by severe habitat loss and fragmentation (Luthin 1987, del Hoyo et al. 1992), particularly that of lowland forests with tall trees used for nesting (R. J. Timmins in litt. 2013), although much suitable habitat remains that is not inhabited (Thewlis et al. 1998). Nests of this species are collected in South-East Asia, where it is a widely dispersed and non-colonial breeder, meaning that it does not have protected concentrations of breeding pairs, but also that its nests are less readily targeted (R. J. Timmins in litt. 2013, F. Goes in litt. 2014). In Nepal, the species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation, hunting, disturbance and possibly the use of agro-chemicals (H. Baral and C. Inskipp in litt. 2014).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Surveys of wetland birds have captured data on this species, and it occurs in numerous protected areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out coordinated surveys to assess the total population size and trend. Conduct awareness-raising activities to reduce persecution, and try to bring in hunting regulations (J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2016). Protect additional areas of suitable habitat, especially nesting areas in South-East Asia.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Text has been edited in the Rationale, Geographic Range, Conservation Actions, Threats and Habitat and Ecology Information sections. The Biogeographic Realm list has been edited, as has the countries of occurrence list, and the degree of importance of some habitat types. The lower elevation limit has been added as have a new Contributor and Facilitator/Compiler. Added missing references cited under the Taxonomic Notes.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Ciconia episcopus (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22727255A110064997. . Downloaded on 14 August 2018.
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