Conservation: Population survey and nest monitoring activities of Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has found that about 12 white-bellied heron juveniles are produced annually.

According to RSPN record, the number of white-bellied heron has more or less remained constant in last 13 years. The total figure was around 24 in 2003. Today it is 28.

There are only around 200 white-bellied herons in the world today. Bhutan is home to less than 30 critically endangered birds.

Between 2003 and 2015, RSPN staff found 12 white-bellied herons dead.  The survey and inventory in the last 13 years found that white-bellied herons exist only in two major river basins – Punatsangchhu and Mangdechhu.

Works for the conservation of white-bellied heron was initiated in early 1990s.

The Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) is in final stage of reviewing the list of species included under schedule one of the Forest and Nature Conservation Act. White-bellied heron is one of them.

DoFPS is organising a four-day international workshop with technical and financial support from United Kingdom’s Synchronicity Earth and IUCN/GEF/Species Survival Commission. Delegates from nine countries are attending the workshop.

Kencho Drukpa of Wangdue Forest Division, said the main objective of the workshop is to review, refine and agree on white-bellied heron conversation strategy, one of the 100 critically endangered species on earth.

Gemma of Synchronicity Earth and IUCN/GEF/Species Survival Commission said that the delegates will work on developing country’s action plans so that it is able to find better ways to confront the challenges in the future.

“We would be short-sighted to believe that Bhutan today is without any serious environmental challenge. Popular electoral democracy, rapid developmental activities and globalisation are brining threat to every corner of the country,” said Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk.

“With support from Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project Authority I and II, we are constructing a captive breeding centre at Changchey, Tsirang,” said an RSPN official, Indra Prasad. RSPN has also received support from Bhutan Trust Fund.

With technical support from DoFPS and International Crane Foundation (ICF), RSPN has been working to conserve white-bellied herons with habitats restoration.

Dawa Gyelmo, Punakha