Prague Zoo aids white-bellied heron conservation

News

17. 06. 2021


Prague Zoo is helping to protect the critically endangered, white-bellied heron in the Kingdom of Bhutan. There are less than sixty of these large herons in their entire range, half of them living in Bhutan. However, even there it is under threat from the construction of hydroelectric power plants. Therefore, several years ago, preparations began for a conservation project, one that Prague Zoo was asked to join

The white-bellied heron is one of the most endangered birds on the planet. There are less than thirty individuals in Bhutan Author: Royal Society for the Protection of Nature Bhutan The white-bellied heron is one of the most endangered birds on the planet. There are less than thirty individuals in Bhutan Author: Royal Society for the Protection of Nature Bhutan

“The project aims to remove some of the young from the last white-bellied heron nests and create a backup population in captivity,” explained Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo’s director. “We have been training future Bhutanese keepers since 2017, and they have also undergone internships here in Prague. In Bhutan itself, we have also helped in building a breeding station and have provided some equipment and materials. Above all, however, my colleague Antonín Vaidl helps by giving numerous consultations to the staff of Bhutan’s Royal Society for the Protection of Nature.”

The first white-bellied heron chicks were taken from one of the nests in April this year and moved to a newly built breeding facility in the Changche-Tshirang area. Incidentally, a transport box from Prague Zoo was also used to collect the young.

"Two chicks have successfully acclimatized in the outdoor aviary after being moved from the station’s indoor facilities,” said Antonín Vaidl, Prague Zoo’s curator for bird breeding, describing the current situation. “Next year too we plan to remove some chicks from the nests as they would not survive in the wild. Even if, for example, four chicks hatch in one nest, at most only two will survive, usually one. This is probably the last chance to save the white-bellied heron.”

Prague Zoo has supported a project to build a breeding facility for white-bellied herons in the Changche-Tshirang area in Wangdue Province. It has also sent veterinary medicines to Bhutan, as they are not available in the area. Author: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo Prague Zoo has supported a project to build a breeding facility for white-bellied herons in the Changche-Tshirang area in Wangdue Province. It has also sent veterinary medicines to Bhutan, as they are not available in the area. Author: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo