Archived 2020 topic: Asian Woollyneck (Ciconia episcopus): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Asian Woollyneck

The Asian Woollyneck is a species of stork that occurs across South Asia and South-East Asia. Its range extends through India (extending to parts of East Pakistan), Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, down to western and south-western Myanmar, southern parts of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia, restricted parts of peninsular Malaysia, and across Indonesia (BirdLife International 2017, eBird 2020). Its presence in the Philippines is however presumed to be extirpated, leading to an extremely restricted range here (Gonzalez et al. 2018, eBird 2020). The species also remains rare or near extinction in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam (del Hoyo et al. 2020). However, it remains common and widespread across much of South Asia (including India and Sri Lanka), and has also seen recent records in the Yunnan Province of China (eBird 2020). The Asian Woollyneck prefers well-watered areas, such as floodplains, marshes, paddyfields, ponds and lagoons, while nesting will commonly occur on tall trees or even urban structures such as mobile phone towers (Sundar 2006, Vaghela et al. 2015, del Hoyo et al. 2020). 

Ongoing threats include habitat loss and fragmentation, nest destruction, environmental pollution and hunting (Sundar 2006, Jangtarwan et al. 2019, del Hoyo et al. 2020), which may be driving regional declines, especially in parts of South-East Asia. Additionally, the global population was previously estimated at 35,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2017; Wetlands International 2020). However, recent estimates suggest the population may actually number 120,000-310,000 individuals (G. Sundar in litt. 2019). Assuming that roughly two-thirds of these are mature individuals, the population of the Asian Woollyneck may tentatively number 80,000-210,000 mature individuals.

The Asian Woollyneck is currently listed as Vulnerable under Criterion A2cd+3cd+4cd, based on a suspected range-wide decline exceeding 30% over three generations, when last assessed. However, information regarding new population estimates and trends may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, the species is here re-assessed here against all criteria:


Criterion A –
The species was previously suspected to be declining overall at a rate exceeding 30% across a 3-generation period (27.6 years, Bird et al. 2020)*. However, this was based largely on information about threats and local declines in South-East Asia, where the species remains rare. Although it still faces a number of threats and has seen local declines in parts of its range, the currently available evidence suggests that the species continues to remain stable across the larger South Asian range (del Hoyo et al. 2020), and has not declined so rapidly. Further information is however sought to determine the species’s current overall population trend. If the evidence suggests that its global population has declined or is likely to decline at a rate approaching 30% over three generations, then the species may qualify as Near Threatened under Criterion A2cde+3cde+4cde. Otherwise, it will be assessed as Least Concern under Criterion A.

Criterion B ­– The estimated Extent of Occurrence (EOO) is approximately 18,600,000 km2. This is far beyond the threshold (<20,000 km2) required to qualify for a threatened status. Therefore, the species is Least Concern under Criterion B.

Criterion C – The population of Asian Woollyneck is now thought to number 80,000-210,000 mature individuals (G. Sundar in litt. 2019). This is far beyond the threshold (<10,000 mature individuals) required to qualify for a threatened status. Thus, the species is Least Concern under Criterion C.  

Criterion D – The number of mature individuals and range size estimated for this species fall far beyond the thresholds needed for a threatened status under this criterion. Therefore, the Asian Woollyneck qualifies as Least Concern under Criterion D.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Therefore, depending on the overall magnitude of any global population decline, it is suggested that the Asian Woollyneck (Ciconia episcopus) be listed as either Least Concern or Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatenedunder Criterion A2cde+3cde+4cde. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing and specifically ask for further information regarding recent population trends. Is there evidence for past, present and/or future declines approaching 30% over three generations (27.6 years)?

Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of its Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the discussion outlined in the topic. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the Comment Policy.

*Bird generation lengths are estimated using the methodology of Bird et al. (2020), as applied to parameter values updated for use in each IUCN Red List for birds reassessment cycle. Values used for the current assessment are available on request. We encourage people to contact us with additional or improved values for the following parameters; adult survival (true survival accounting for dispersal derived from an apparently stable population); mean age at first breeding; and maximum longevity (i.e. the biological maximum, hence values from captive individuals are acceptable).

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.

References

Bird, J. P.; Martin, R.; Akçakaya, H. R.; Gilroy, J.; Burfield, I. J.; Garnett, S.; Symes, A.; Taylor, J.; Šekercioğlu, Ç.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2020. Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology; online first view.

BirdLife International. (2017). Ciconia episcopus (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Collar, N., Garcia, E. F. J., Boesman, P. F. D., and Kirwan, G. M. (2020). Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (Billerman, S. M., Keeney, B. K., Rodewald, P. G., and Schulenberg, T. S., Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.wonsto1.01

eBird. 2020. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance. Ithaca, NY, USA Available at: http://www.ebird.org.

Gonzalez, J. C. T. et al. (2018). Review and update of the 2004 National List of Threatened Terrestrial Fauna of the Philippines. The Technical Journal of Philippine Ecosystems and Natural Resources; 28 (1), 73-144.

Jangtarwan, K. et al. (2019). Take one step backward to move forward: Assessment of genetic diversity and population structure of captive Asian woolly-necked storks (Ciconia episcopus). PLoS ONE; 14 (10), 1-17.

Sundar, G. (2006). Flock size, density and habitat selection of four large waterbirds species in an agricultural landscape in Uttar Pradesh, India: Implications for management. Waterbirds; 29(3): 365-374.

Sundar, G. (2019). Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group. Personal communication.

Vaghela, U., Sawant, D., and Bhagwat, V. (2015). Woolly-necked Storks Ciconia episcopus nesting on mobile-towers in Pune, Maharashtra. Indian BIRDS; 10 (6), 154-155.

Wetlands International. 2020. Waterbird Population Estimates. Available at: http://wpe.wetlands.org.

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20 Responses to Archived 2020 topic: Asian Woollyneck (Ciconia episcopus): revise global status?

  1. It has disappeared largely from its former range in Thailand where it used to be widespread. Nowadays it only remains in one or two sites in very small numbers. Thus, it has been listed as Critically Endangered for the country (https://www.bcst.or.th/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Checklist_ThaiBirds_2019.xlsx). Similar declines seem to have been ongoing in neighboring countries as well. I would strongly disagree with this species being downlisted. I think it should even be considered being uplisted to EN.

  2. Gopi Sundar says:

    Posting in two parts to accomodate all the information. This is Part 1.

    This submission is from the IUCN Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group after consultations and discussions with available literature and researchers some of whom are members of the Specialist Group. The following people kindly provided advice, discussions, literature, unpublished information and thoughts that helped develop this submission:

    Bhuwan Singh Bist, Luis Santiago Alonso Cano, Prashant Ghimire, Frederic Goes, Kailash Jaiswal, Manoj Karingamadathil, Chiranjivi Khanal, Swati Kittur, Michael Meyerhoff, Navin Pandey, V. Santaram, S. Subramanya, and Yajna Prasad Timilsina.

    The past upgradation of the species’ status to “Vulnerable” was made despite most of the comments on the previous forum and available data suggesting that the species is largely stable across much of south Asia. The need to upgrade conservation status was based on two suggestions from south-east Asia where the species is thought to be facing much more hunting and habitat loss. There is no published information from south-east Asia currently to balance against information provided by multiple studies available from south Asia. This lacuna needs to be urgently filled since many aspects of the status as currently stated may be incorrect as I showcase below.

    Like many species distributed across south and south-east Asia, it is highly likely that the species is facing a higher degree and intensity of threats in south-east Asia relative to what a much larger population faces in south Asia. We currently do not have enough information from south-east Asia on either the population of the species or the impacts of threats. Some observers have pointed out that species like Asian Woollyneck would not be threatened as much from hunting relative to species that breed in large colonies. Hunting at just one or two such colonies can severely impact species populations. It is not clear if the current rate of hunting is adequate to affect Asian Woollyneck that breeds in individual nests that are very widely spaced out. This aspect requires specific research and conservation attention before we can assume that hunting imposes the same degree of threat on Asian Woollyneck as it does on species that nest in bigger colonies.

    Field-based assessments of the species’ status and ecology from different areas is important for a couple of different reasons. First is of course the need to be using robust, repeatable, and verifiable sources to drive conservation processes. The second is because emerging ecological information from many locations in south Asia is showing that this species is NOT reliant only on undisturbed wetlands within forests as it was previously thought to be.

    We are seeing that:

    1. Numbers in rivers and wetlands monitored for waterbirds over years show population trends to be stable.

    2. Numbers in many human-modified landscapes, especially multi-cropped areas, are high and these numbers have not previously been considered in assessments of the species because it was assumed to avoid croplands and other areas with human presence. We are in the process of readying some available information for publication, but back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the estimated population of this species ranges from 120,000 – 131000 in south Asia. (Subject to some change after final review and publication – the change is likely to be upwards of the numbers provided.) This calculation is not based on ad-hoc observations, but on density estimates derived from systematic multi-scale, multi-year surveys. These surveys are being conducted across multiple agricultural landscapes at the resolution of the season for each landscape over multiple years. Landscapes have a variety of densities of Asian Woollynecks. Estimated population size use the lowest and highest observed annual densities across all surveyed areas. The density estimates are underestimates since we do not separate potentially “unusable” habitats from “used” habitats on each landscape since surveys cover both kinds of areas to avoid biasing estimates. Extrapolation to the known south Asian distribution range is therefore deemed reasonable.

    … continued in Part 2.

  3. Gopi Sundar says:

    Part 2, continuing from Part 1.

    3. Preliminary behavioural work (submitted for publication) shows that this species is NOT affected negatively by human presence in farmlands as has been suggested in many previous assessments and reviews. This work also shows the species displaying seasonal plasticity to enable persisting on landscapes where crops and conditions change dramatically due to crops grown and due to weather conditions. Again, this refutes past assumptions that the species cannot use croplands easily.

    4. Increasing number of observations have been published showing the species being versatile in its ability to use artificial nesting platforms including cell phone towers and high-tension power lines. Such observations have been made in multiple locations across its distribution range in south Asia. These observations again show that past assertions claiming that this species shies away from human habitation is not accurate. It is not entirely clear why storks are choosing artificial structures over trees. One hypothesis is that these structures tend to be much higher than trees and storks may be gaining increased visibility around nests.

    5. Initial compilations of breeding data shows the species to be breeding readily in farmlands, with some areas witnessing very high breeding success. The biggest threat in farmlands is the reducing number of trees. The species is also breeding close to or in urbanised areas, though this appears to be in low numbers.

    Put together, the information available shows that the past assessment of the species to “Vulnerable” did not consider all the information that was available on the species and was fortunately premature. (To reiterate, we still do not know how serious the situation in south-east Asia is to arrive at a more complete understanding of the status of the species.)

    Available information suggests that the majority of the population of this species is outside of protected reserves and sanctuaries across much of its distribution range in south Asia. These areas are experiencing increased rates of urbanisation, deterioration and removal of wetlands and wet crops, increased use of chemicals whose effects are very likely to be felt by the species, cutting of trees in agricultural landscapes (which appear to be hosting the majority of the breeding population of the species), and some reports of illegal hunting. Currently, there is no information that can help us know for sure which of these threats have directly affected populations negatively and to what degree, but it is unlikely that the ongoing changes on the landscape will leave the species unaffected.

    Based on the information provided, it is suggested that the species requires a down listing from the current status to “Near-threatened”.

    Gopi Sundar
    Co-chair, IUCN Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group

  4. James Eaton says:

    The Southeast Asian range mentioned in the first paragraph needs to be altered slightly – there is only one record for Peninsular Malaysia (currently being assessed by the Malaysia Rarities committee), I’m also unaware of many recent records from Laos.
    Across Indonesia – recent records appear to be just randomly individuals/single figure counts from a variety of sites on a handful of islands (ebird 2020). Are there any birds actually breeding in Indonesia – something that seems to have been ignored for too long now.
    I’m not aware of any breeding success, and all photos identified to age appear to be adults. Shooting for spot is a big issues in large areas of Indonesia, especially Sumatra, Kalimantan, Flores and Sulawesi, where most of these single figure counts are from.

    Before down listing the species, I would highly recommend looking at breeding success, or ratio of immatures vs adults using photographs (for example, on ebird), so we can discount it’s not just roaming individuals making it appear stable.

    • Gopi Sundar says:

      Well said James and your thoughts on south-east Asian range as also your observations in Indonesia are very useful. They add to other sparse observations that also suggest that the status across many countries within the distribution range of this species is very poorly understood.

      Information from south Asia are of two kinds, both multi-year. The first are numbers collated as part of winter counts in several wetlands and in a few rivers. All of these show that the numbers are stable, with some inter-annual fluctuations which may be both due to counting methods as well as some variation in the use of the wetland/ river year-to-year.

      The more recently set up seasonal monitoring effort across eight landscapes show that the species is resident, breeding pairs appear to be territorial, most pairs appear to be breeding each year though breeding success estimates have still not been computed, and that densities in several agricultural landscapes are high. All of these landscapes are in central and north India.

      Similar information is coming in from less formal but quite carefully conducted observations by volunteers in additional locations of the country are also showing that the species is fairly numerous though dispersed, matching the behaviour of other territorial species like Sarus Cranes and Black-necked Storks.

      Studies since 2000 in several locations have confirmed that numbers being seen are not merely roaming individuals seen at different times in different location.

  5. I feel that the population of this species is more or less stable, may be, with a slight decline in numbers and frequency of sightings, in India. For one, this species was never abundant, was always/habitually seen in low numbers and is rarely gregarious, usually seen in pairs or couple of pairs. It would certainly make your day if ever you get see them in numbers, a few hundreds, during non-breeding season. To cap it all, it is a solitary nester and nesting pairs are very widely scattered during breeding season. Also, it does not usually mingle with other large colonial tree-nesting waterbirds for breeding. It has a huge habitat breadth: wet margins of various types of waterbodies – big and small, shallow-flooded wet and dry cultivations or even an isolated farm pond or a waterhole in a dense forest, serves the species just fine. From my over 4 decades of understanding this species, I would say that, individuals are rather lethargic and being large in size, the species does not have wide ranging habits. It would happily stay put at a wetland the whole day, unless disturbed. Thus, the assumption that counts are of wide-ranging individuals, is not right.

    Thus, I would not recommend its uplisting and would think that even the present status, `Vulnerable’ is slightly high for this species, say, for India.

  6. Sighting, nesting records, and literature on Asian Woollyneck have increased from South-Asia in recent years. Without knowing its movement pattern, it is very difficult to say if such sighting actually portrays the population increase/decrease. Our survey in Rupandehi and Kapilvastu districts of Nepal found 46 woollynecks in 2018 (https://bit.ly/2MmeUiG ) which is very less compared to lesser adjutants counted in the same survey. But, the range of AWN being higher than LAS, couldn’t make the interpretation. Also, more sightings are now in our record (Photobank campaign: https://bit.ly/3eMrHY4 ) especially from hills which may not be due to population increase but increased public awareness. Considering its records in South-Asia especially India, Sri-lanka, and Nepal, increasing sightings in Pakistan and Bangladesh, I agree on downlisting to “Near Threatened”. However, the pressing issue is from South East Asia where the species is critically endangered or even thought to be extinct (Philippines). To my knowledge, limited information is available from these regions. In this context, I would say it would have been great if this revision has been made after gathering more information from South-East Asia where the species is declined from its historical range.
    On hopeful, as IUCN SIS SSC is proposing this revision, I hope they have enough information (which might be currently unavailable to us) for this downlisting.

  7. Philip Round says:

    I really think it unwise to downgrade the listing of Asian Woollyneck. The species is teetering on the brink of extinction in Thailand, where it is totally absent from populated /cultivated lowlands, and scarcely present anywhere else. (And this in spite of Thailand’s evident success in restoring other lowland megafauna such as large mammals and Green Peafowl .) I last saw Asian Woollyneck in Kaeng Krachan (in logged lowland forest) in 1990 -probably the last individual at that site from which it has since vanished. A few are present at Khao Ang Ru Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in Southeast Thailand , a c. 1000 sq km tract of semi-evergreen lowland forest studded with a few small seasonally dry waterbodies, but there is almost no recent information and the population is perilously small. While other large waterbirds such as Painted Stork and Darter are in the process of recolonising the country, Asian Woollyneck is not among them. For Laos, Duckworth (1999) wrote that there there were populations of Asian Woollyneck remaining at just two sites- Xe Piane and Dong Khantung. A population of a few tens of birds was present in Dong Khanthung, extreme S Lao when I surveyed the site for WCS/IUCN in 1998. But the site is not yet protected as an NBCA, and probably never will be. At that time Asian Woollyneck was being hunted for food in Dong Khanthung by settlers, along with practically every other large bird. It may even have gone by now. I have no recent information. Goes (2013) considered it near-threatened in Cambodia, where it has declined hugely, and was only about half as frequent as Lesser Adjutant. Given the large scale change of land-use that is happening in Cambodia, I would guess further decline is inevitable. Long gone from Malaysia (but one recent sighting). Note James Eaton’s comments from Indonesia. From my (Thai) perspective, it would be utterly foolish to list Asian Woollyneck in the same “catch-all” category, “Least Concern”, as, for example Oriental Magpie Robin! (And this at the same time as BirdLife is pleased to list Green Peafowl as Globally Endangered, while studiously ignoring three large and expanding protected populations in Thailand, at least two of which may number >1,000 individuals). I don’t have much first-hand experience of the situation in the Indian Subcontinent, which is a bit of special case in regard of tolerance of large open country birds. (But given human population pressure, how long will that last?) However, since that Asian Woollyneck has disappeared from almost all its SE Asian range, in my view “She Stays as She Lays”- at the very least, Globally Vulnerable

    • Gopi Sundar says:

      Phil – the situation for the species in south-east Asia certainly seems grim. And thanks for adding to this discussion.

      There ought to be a way to represent regional differences in status. This situation is not uncommon and concerns many species. The contrast between south and south-east Asia for several species is stark. For species like the Black-necked Stork, the huge and healthy population in Australia overwhelms the status of the species when it is not doing quite poorly in both south-east Asia or south Asia.

      Frederick Goes contributed to the discussion that I posted in two parts above, and continues to think that a status of “Near-threatened” is adequate for the species.

      India and some parts of lowland Nepal certainly seem an unusual and happy case in being able to host fairly large populations of several waterbirds, including the Asian Woollyneck, in the countryside. On your question of how long this will last, that question comes to my mind every day, but each day I am also reminded that past predictions were unable to predict the situation continuing for as long as it has. As we survey new areas, and as colleagues cover new ground, we are adding to the knowledge that the Asian Woollyneck, while being relatively sparsely distribution (because it is territorial as we discovered recently), numbers collated across south Asia are fortunately impressively high.

      This situation is changing in bits and pieces for sure, but we have not seen very very large-scale changes of aspects such as change in crops, or change in land use. There certainly are pockets of severe changes, such as illegal conversions of wetlands to privatized fish ponds in one state. However, even in this state, even after this privatization that has happened over a decade, we have not seen collapses of any population of resident waterbird. If anything, breeding success of Asian Woollyneck here remains as high as it was some years ago. In any case, if unanticipated changes occur and these impact the species in a serious way, we should certainly re-evaluate the status at that time.

      It is because of several threats that I list above remaining and increasing in some areas that it will make sense to have the species status be “Near-threatened” and not “Least Concern”. In south Asia, we have adequate evidence to show that the population of this species is much much higher than has been assumed in the past thanks in part to incorrect assumptions regarding its ability to adjust to human-modified conditions. We also have evidence to show that many areas where monitoring has continued for a decade or more, the species is at least stable (without corrections for rainfall etc. that potentially has consequences on how the species spreads out in the landscape, or does not).

      Available evidence shows quite clearly that the upgradation of the status to “Vulnerable” was premature, so the discussion really ought to be re-starting from the status prior to this upgradation.

      Gopi Sundar

  8. Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury says:

    In NE India the species is relatively uncommon. There are regular sightings in many areas of Assam but mostly in small numbers (on a few occasions more than 25 bird were seen). The population seemed to be stable although in many smaller wetlands it is no longer seen. The known breeding records are very few in Assam. I am not sure about the rest of India. However, if it is to be down listed than it should not go beyond “Near Threatened”, and certainly NOT “Least Concern”.

  9. Simon Mahood says:

    Hi all
    From a South-east Asian perspective, I don’t think that it is sensible to downlist this species. It is likely undergoing a sustained range-wide decline as a result of habitat loss and hunting. Others have commented on its status in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. In Cambodia, it is still widespread in lowland deciduous and semi-evergreen forest, but this habitat type is suffering the kind of rates of habitat loss that has caused it to be almost completely lost from Thailand. This is compounded by small-scale opportunistic hunting throughout its Cambodian range. It’s basically gone as a breeding species in Vietnam and Laos. If the threat status of Asian Woolyneck was assessed for just Southeast Asia then I think it would probably qualify as EN, so the key question for the global assessment is what proportion of the global population is found in Southeast Asia?

    • Gopi Sundar says:

      Simon – using the population criteria would leave SE Asia with a very small proportion I imagine. The way to probably do this is to talk about usable habitat, and SE Asia has a sizable area where these storks could live in if they were not hunted.

      Work in south Asia is showing that forests host a very small proportion of the species’ population, and the majority live on multi-cropped farmlands. The major conservation issue in SE Asia for this species is therefore likely hunting and not deforestation per se.

      Either way, the issue of a single species having different populations each of which are experiencing very different threat levels needs some more serious thinking. There ought to be a way to flag seriously threatened populations as part of the larger assessment so a healthy population elsewhere does not undermine the conservation needs of a declining, seriously endangered population. This is urgently needed since we using either only the SE Asian situation or only the S Asian situation for overall species status assessment is not appropriate.

      Gopi Sundar.

  10. Frederic GOES says:

    Thanks to all contributors here, who brought up interesting and useful thoughts to this difficult case re status review.

    First, to clarify and update my opinion about the species status in Cambodia– its last stronghold in Indochina-Thailand: it has definitely worsened since the publication of the checklist and it would most likely now qualify as ‘Nationally Threatened’ instead of Near-Threatened. The recent BirdingASIA Mekong bird paper (Mittermeier et al. 2019) indicates serious decline in the past 10 years in at least parts of the country. Given the frightening rate of forest loss in Cambodia, this is probably similar in most of the country. So the key questions here are as follows.

    1. How much does the SEAsian population weights in the global assessment? Not much and certainly well below 10%. Given the near-extirpated status in adjacent countries (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam), and although there is no density or population estimate that I know of from any site in Cambodia, having more substantial population data would not change the order of scale of this best ‘guestimate’.

    2. How are diverging regional rates of decline taken into accounts? Do we kind of ‘average’ the discrepancies or again weight them in proportion with the respective population size? Or give more importance to where it is worst?? On this topic, when I was quite reluctant to assign a national threat category for the species in Cambodia, here is what Rob Timmins wrote: “The last area you should look at trend is in the best areas, the first place you should be looking for trends is in the worst areas for the species. For instance WNStork is very much more threatened than peafowl, partly because peafowl is more versatile, can occur at much higer density and has a far greater reproductive output”. In a way, applying this approach on the global scale would lead to the species being listed as Endangered!

    3. How much do global categories care about regional extinction/range reduction? Is a predicted extirpation from a 30-40% extent of the species range considered in the evaluation? Here at stake is the mobilization of conservation resources for the species. Because of lower global priority, species like Black-bellied Tern has gone extinct from the Mekong basin almost unnoticed. And Andrea Claassen had all the trouble to convince WWF and others to set up conservation action and a SAPlan to save River Tern, now surviving at critically low numbers, on the Cambodia Mekong too…

    Well, sorry if this contribution seems to add more questions than providing answers to the case of Asian Woollyneck threat status, but I believe that being aware of them are necessary to come to a meaningful decision!

  11. Ramesh Chaudhary says:

    on the 25th April, 2020 a total of 28 Asian Woollyneck were observed foraging the paddyfield near Janakauli village (4km east of Sauraha). Thereafter, either single or two are seen occasionally. In my observation, population of Asian Woollyneck has done down in Chitwan. Major threat of the bird is loss of habitat and use of chemical pesticides, herbicide and insecticides. I think, public awareness should be raised about the importance of the bird.

  12. Just adding a bit on Bangladesh – there have been regular records from Padma River of Rajshahi Division in north-west Bangladesh of maximum 10 individuals since 2015 including one report of nesting on communication tower in November 2017. The area is now well-watched with increasing number of local birdwatchers and photographers.

  13. The recent information from Pakistan.
    Roberts (1997) considered it very rare and largely sedentary; he mentioned a handful records, all from North East Punjab.
    The early sightings start from 2013 from two locales; Headworks of Maralla (Sialkot) and Baloki (Lahore).
    The Baloki sightings were only two times. Firstly, two birds were seen in 2013 and then an individual in 2015. In both instances, the birds had arrived from the Indian side.
    The sightings have started increasing in Headworks of Maralla since then.
    There have only been repetitive sightings from Headworks of Maralla (Sialkot).
    The status of this species is of winter visitors in the wetlands of Head Marala. Each year around 5 to 8 individuals winter in and around the wetlands. As per the birdwatchers of the area, the species is increasing in numbers each year. This is evident in the fact that last year in December, an unusually large flock of 15 was seen at the wetlands by a group of birdwatchers.
    Many bird watchers have kept a keen eye out for the species’s breeding. Although none has been noted till date. The species is currently a rare winter visitor to border regions of North East Punjab province, Pakistan.

  14. Praveen J says:

    As per State of India’s Birds, though long-term trends seem to be stable, there is some evidence of short-term decline in this species (last 5y).

    https://www.stateofindiasbirds.in/species/wonsto1/

    Annual Change: -6.18% (CI: 3.53%)

  15. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  16. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2019 Red List would be to list the Asian Wollyneck as Near Threatened, nearly meeting Criterion A2cde+3cde+4cde.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from the initial proposal.

    The final 2020 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2020/January 2021 (information on the IUCN Red List update process can be found here), following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  17. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    The final categorisation for this species has not changed. Asian Woollyneck is recommended to be listed as Near Threatened, nearly meeting the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A2cde+3cde+4cde.

    Many thanks for everyone who contributed to the 2020 GTB Forum process. The final 2020 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2020/January 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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