Grassroots conservation of a Critically Endangered bird, Ardea insignis

We are on the verge of losing the white-bellied heron, Ardea insignis, to habitat destruction and degradation. This magnificent bird is the world’s second largest heron and is found in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. It is also called the Imperial Heron, and it is estimated that there are only 250 mature individuals left. The species is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN red list.

ATREE received an IUCN-Save Our Species grant to float a grassroots conservation project to conserve three key Ardea insignis habitats along the Assam-Bhutan border. The project strategy was to secure these sites for species recovery by sensitizing and mobilizing local communities in key sites of the Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam, training a cadre of local ‘heron guardians’ and creating disturbance free zones through community participation and sanction. It was estimated that the project would also serve as a platform for information exchange between conservation groups working on the species in Bhutan and India.

The six heron guardians are Ananta Bagh, Maheswar Muchahary, Rajaram Brahma, Bimala Prasad Basumatary, Bijoy Choudhury and Rajual Islari. Read more about their work on the IUCN website: Imperial Guards of Manas Tiger Reserve, India

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