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Establishment of White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) Captive breeding Center

Project overview/Rationale

Considering current population status, survival rate, distribution and changing environment, it is apparent that conservation efforts for the next 20 years may be necessary in order to conserve WBH and achieve an ecologically viable/stable population in the wild. It is important to find a middle path to mitigate the current declining habitat and food sources from recent development activities, natural calamities, climate change and impact on the ecosystem. With the onset of the climate change process, preservation of natural habitat and survival of WBH has become more unpredictable. With all the emerging natural, environmental and manmade pressures, the wild population might become extinct in the near future before conservationists can clearly understand the cause. Therefore establishment of a safe and reliable ex-situ gene pool through captive breeding for WBH has become necessary to continue with research and conservation programs in future.


Goal; Preserve and increase the WBH population in Bhutan through captive breeding and release program, habitat conservation and other mitigation measures.


  1. To conserve an ex-situ gene-pool of the critically endangered White-bellied Heron.
  2. To establish a White-bellied Heron captive breeding and rearing facility centre in Bhutan
  3. To continue conservation efforts with research, monitoring and to increase the population through captive breeding and release programs.
  4. To capacitate key partners in conservation, research, and training and also establish a centre for information sharing.
  5. To increase public and agency awareness and community participation in conservation of White-bellied Heron.


Expected outcomes

  1. Captive rearing successfully undertaken using the captive breeding facilities.
  2. Trainee foresters/researchers engaging actively in captive rearing activities.
  3. Increased deeper understanding of WBH ecological relationships, habitat preferences, and population dynamics with better understanding of the needs and options for its conservation and protection.
  4. Local people and governmental agencies actively engaged in monitoring and conserving WBH and their habitats.

Project Site

White-bellied Heron habitat area



Royal Government of Bhutan

Department of Forest and Park Services

Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment Conservation

Local Support Community Group


Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC), Bhutan has consistently supported the implementation of WBH conservation program and has provided US$ 300,000 for the year 2019-2021. 

However, to sustain and consistently carry both ex-situ and in-situ conservation work for WBH for the next 20 years, RSPN requires an estimated amount of US$ 150,000 annually.

This can only be made possible with a White-bellied Heron endowment fund of US$ 3 million at 5% annual investment interest. So far, MAVA foundation in Geneva generously provided a grant of US$ 1.5 million to support WBH conservation in Bhutan. An additional USD 0.15 million was raised with the support of Philanthropist and other donors. RSPN still requires to raise USD 1.35 million to achieve the target.

At RSPN, we believe a single grain of sand can tip the scale. You can be the grain that tips the scale towards improved environmental conditions and conservation efforts in Bhutan. RSPN has set a target to raise US$ 1.5 million for next 10 years.