- The White-bellied Heron is a very rarely found species being found in Arunachal Pradesh.
- This bird has a large blackish bill, 15-18 cm long, and is mostly dark greyish, with a white throat, a white belly, and a bent neck.
- It is the second-largest heron in the world, with adults standing at well over a metre tall.
- This species is part of the bird family Arideidae, which includes herons, bitterns and egrets and this family diverged from all other bird families 51.6 million years ago in the Paleogene period.
- The white-bellied heron is found in the wetlands of tropical and subtropical forests in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas of India and Myanmar.
- It usually feeds by standing in fast flowing rivers and also uses slow moving streams and grassy marshes.
- Its recent known distribution is in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, northeast Bangladesh, Bhutan.
- It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2007, because the global population is estimated at less than 250 mature individuals and it is threatened by disturbance and habitat degradation.
Protection under Wildlife Protection Act 1972
- Under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is placed under Schedule I giving highest legal protection to the species.
Why in News ?
- Scientists have found that Loss of habitat is forcing the White-bellied Heron to lead an isolated lifestyle deep inside forests, and further pushing this critically endangered bird towards extinction.
- Their isolation prevented these birds from learning about new sites and food sources from fellow foragers, which could have enhanced chances of their survival.