With two new sightings of critically endangered White-bellied Heron (WBH), the current population stands at 28 individuals distributed in 13 locations in Bhutan.
One individual of WBH was sighted feeding along Sunkosh river by Forestry official of Kalikhola range on 28/12/2015. Its presence in the area was confirmed by other forestry officials and experts from Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE).
Upon receipt of information from Kalikhola range field staff, White-bellied Heron Recovery Plan project staff from Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) visited the area on 27th March, 2016 and conducted detail survey in collaboration with forestry staff further confirming its presence. Communicating with local communities, it was found, local herders have sighted a pair of WBH feeding along the river since few months ago.
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Tourist guide training team from UWICE, on their field visit to Trashiyangse sight another WBH on 18th April, 2016. It is for the first time WBH has been sighted in eastern Bhutan. Mr. Karma Wangdi, research assistant at UWICE reported that while they were birding along the river below Gomkora, they spotted critically endangered WBH feeding in the river.
With additional 3 individuals from two new habitats, Bhutan has 28 confirmed individuals of WBH, which is highest population in the world. There are only 60 confirmed individuals of WBH in the world today.