Archived 2012-2013 topics: Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea): uplist to Endangered?

BirdLife species factsheet for Milky Stork Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea occurs in Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sumbawa, Sulawesi and Buton, Indonesia. It is currently listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, because it is suspected to be undergoing a population decline of ≥30% over three generations (c.25 years in this species [BirdLife International, unpubl. data]), owing to on-going habitat loss, human disturbance, hunting and capture for trade.  Hybridisation with other stork spp. has also been reported in the wild (Hong Chamnan in litt. 2004 to Wetlands International 2006), for example with Painted Stork M. leucocephala at Ang Trapeang Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve, Cambodia in 2007, as well as in captive populations, including free-flying birds (Eames 2007, Ding Li Yong in litt. 2011, J. C. Eames in litt. 2011). The global population has been estimated at fewer than 5,500 individuals. The majority are in Indonesia, with fewer than 5,000 on Sumatra and c.400 in west Java (Eames 2007). There are very small populations in Malaysia and Cambodia (Eames 2007), and it is a vagrant to Thailand and Vietnam. However, numbers have apparently declined, at least in some parts of its range. Counts from Malaysia fell consistently from over 100 individuals in 1984, to fewer than 10 birds in 2005; a decline of over 90% (Malaysian Nature Society 2005, Li et al. 2006, Li and Ounsted 2007). Only a single wild bird was recorded in the Matang Mangrove Forest in 2010 (DWNP 2010). A captive release programme has begun at Matang, with a total of 31 birds released since 2007 until December 2010 (DWNP 2010); nesting has been reported but the encounter rate of wild birds remains extremely low (Y. C. Aik in litt. 2012).  Also, Painted Storks are now found at the Selangor coast and if they move northwards, cross breeding of the wild/captive released Milky Storks in Matang could be a possibility (Y. C. Aik in litt. 2012). Its status in Indonesia has received less study.  A 2008-2009 survey estimated the Sumatra population at less than 1,450 individuals (M. Iqbal in litt. 2012). Although good numbers can still be found at some sites in southern Sumatra (Iqbal and Hasudungan 2008), there are reports that numbers have declined considerably (Li et al. 2006, M. Iqbal in litt. 2006, Iqbal and Hasudungan 2008). Iqbal et al. 2012 reports a decline of about 70% in 22 years, from 1986 to 2008. Interviews with local people suggest that the taking of chicks from nests is the main threat to the population in south Sumatra. Population declines of 73-80% were estimated in areas where hunting was heavy but in contrast, the population appears to be stable in areas such as the Banyuasin peninsula where hunting is not reported (M. Iqbal et al. 2012). There are reports that free-flying Milky Stork have hybridised extensively in Singapore, and there are concerns that these hybrids will reach south Sumatra and genetically contaminate wild stocks there (D. L. Yong in litt. 2011). There are estimated to be c.10-20 pairs at Tonle Sap lake, Cambodia (J. Eames in litt. 2006). Although at this site, large waterbird breeding colonies are designated core areas of the Biosphere Reserve, are proposed as Ramsar Sites, and have received active monitoring and improved enforcement of regulations since 1997. Given that the majority of the population is thought to occur in Indonesia and Malaysia, population trends here could largely determine this species’s conservation status (S. Mahood in litt. 2012). If there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the global population has declined by more than 50% over the past 25 years, this species would qualify as Endangered under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd of the IUCN Red List. Further information is required on population size and trends for this species, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia, and on the effect of hybridization on this species’s population. References: DWNP (2010) Annual Report 2010. Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Iqbal, M. and Hasudungan, F. (2008) Observations of Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea during 2001-2007 in South Sumatra province, Indonesia. BirdingASIA 9: 97-99. Iqbal, M., Ridwan, A., Takari, F. and Mulyono, H. (2008) Rediscovery of a Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea breeding colony in South Sumatra province, Indonesia. BirdingASIA: 62-66. Iqbal, M., Takari, F., Mulyono, H. and Rasam. (2009) A note on the breeding success of Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea in 2008, South Sumatra province, Indonesia and more on its diet. BirdingASIA 11: 73-74. Iqbal, M., Mulyono, H., Riwan, A. and Takari, F. (2012) An alarming decrease in the Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea population on the east coast of South Sumatra province, Indonesia. BirdingASIA 18: 68-70. Li, Z.W.D. and Ounsted, R. (eds.). 2007. The Status of Coastal Waterbirds and Wetlands in Southeast Asia: Results of Waterbird Surveys in Malaysia (2004–2006) and Thailand and Myanmar (2006). Wetlands International: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Li Zuo Wei, D., Siti Hawa Yatim., Howes, J. and Ilias, R. (2006) Status Overview and Recommendations for the Conservation of Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea in Malaysia: Final report of the 2004/2006 Milky Stork field surveys in the Matang Mangrove Forest, Perak. Wetlands International: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysian Nature Society. (2005) Report on the Milky Stork captive breeding and re-introduction programme, Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. Shepherd, C. R. and Giyanto. (2009) Observations of Milky Storks Mycteria cinerea in Percut, North Sumatra, Indonesia. BirdingASIA 11: 70-72.

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6 Responses to Archived 2012-2013 topics: Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea): uplist to Endangered?

  1. I agree if status of this species uplisted t Endangered. Recent Milky Stork population in Sumatra is estimated about 1.600 birds (Aceh province c.75 birds, North Sumatra province c.500 birds, Riau province c.350 birds, Jambi province c.100 birds, South Sumatra province c.500 birds and Lampung province c.75 birds). It is mean the number of population decline 68% for c. 23 years in Sumatra, from 5.000 in 1986 to 1.600 in 2009 (Iqbal et al. in prep).

    Iqbal, M., Nurza, A. Giyanto. Mulyono, H. & E. Nurrohman. in prep. Recent status of Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea in Sumatra. Paper submit to BirdingAsia.

  2. I support this. The wild population in Malaysia is now (all but) extinct, with only captive-released birds occurring at a few coastal sites. The spontaneous spread of Milky and Painted Storks, which freely hybridize, from an unringed and full-winged colony at the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur is a further potential threat to pure wild stock.

  3. Simon Mahood says:

    The status is Cambodia is unchanged, 10-20 pairs breed annually at Prek Toal. Most pairs are pure but there is some hybridisation with Painted Stork, there and at Ang Trapeang Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve. As you noted, trends in Cambodia are of no relevance to the global threat assessment for this species.

  4. Craig Robson says:

    I would treat it as Critically Endangered. I could easily see this species vanish right before our eyes. What real hope is there for its long-term survival in Indonesia?

  5. Frederic Goes says:

    Although indeed insignificant in terms of global assessment, here is for information the species status in Cambodia, where it is critically endangered, due to a very small population and the threat of hybridisation. Clarifying the status of the coastal population is a priority.

    Milky Stork
    A very rare resident of lowland freshwater and coastal wetlands. Along the coast, year-round records in mudflats of estuaries and mangroves, mainly in Ream NP, with a maximum of 41 birds. Occurs in very small numbers in the Tonle Sap swamp forest and grasslands, and Ang Tropeang Thmor reservoir. Occasionally seen in wet rice fields. Small breeding population at Prek Toal and, recently but inconsistently, at Ang Tropeang Thmor (odd pairs). Almost all inland records away from Prek Toal are of singles or pairs within flocks of Painted Storks. Status of coastal birds unclear, either exclusively non-breeding visitors dispersing from the Tonle Sap, or possibly including local resident population, as suggested by mono-specific flock records.

  6. Bas van Balen says:

    The stork was still widespread at major estuaries along the north coast of w, c and e Java in 2006 and 2009, though in small numbers. A wintering flock in east Madura of 170+ birds observed in 1996, had diminished to just about 70 birds in 2006 and may be indicative of its decline throughout. Endangered seems appropriate.

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