Below are some of the organisations actively engaged in the conservation of White-bellied Heron. If you know of others, please do contact us so we can include the group in the list below. Please note individuals and government organisations have not been specifically mentioned.


Photo: Lubomir Peske


Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has been collecting data on White-bellied Heron since 2003 and therefore has the most comprehensive data set available on the species. RSPN also works with local communities to raise awareness of the species and for monitoring purposes. RSPN helped organise the 2015 workshop, alongside the Bhutanese government & Synchronicity Earth.

Recent counts of White-bellied Heron (conducted by RSPN Feb-March 2016) found 28 individuals, the same number of birds recorded in 2015, despite a breeding season since which saw the fledging of 10 White-bellied Heron offspring. The question of where these birds disperse go remains. However, only three nests (plus one which was destroyed by fire) have been located in 2016.

WWF Bhutan currently lists White-bellied Heron as a key species, though its programme is not currently active.


Southwest Forestry University held five workshops along the Yunnan border with government departments, minority communities and forest rangers to help verify the species occurrence in China and raise awareness about the species so that any sightings could be appropriately reported, verified and recorded.

There are some on-going research projects in China working to identify new species.


Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was the first international NGO to establish a long-term project in Myanmar. It has a long history working in the country. WCS, Myanmar, has several expert researchers working to identify White-bellied Heron habitat and monitor populations, alongside other species and projects. However, on-going political tensions mean that most important White-bellied Heron sites are currently off-limits. It is hoped that as the country becomes more stable these areas will open-up and be safe for researchers and conservationists alike.

Despite this, three sightings (it is not known how many individuals) of White-bellied Heron were recorded along Tanai River when WCS researchers managed to gain access to Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in early 2016.


Aaranyak have been working with RSPN in Bhutan to undertake genetic analysis of White-bellied Heron, helping them to better understand the gentic diversity of the remaining population and try to understand historic changes to the population.

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (Atree) have been working with a number of grassroots groups to try and improve protection and understanding of White-bellied Heron since 2012. Atree co-hosted the December 2014 meeting and currently work closely with the White-bellied Heron Working Group to ensure follow-up on the action points specific to India. In 2016, they hosted a national meeting on the species and have provided small-scale funding to enable researchers to continue to collect data on the species.

Atree are committed to scaling-up action and making research on White-bellied Heron more strategic in India.

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is a BirdLife partner that plays a critical role in bird conservation in India. BNHS have previously organised a nation-wide workshop on White-bellied Heron alongside other species, and were co-hosts of the 2014 range-wide workshop. At present their capacity to be involved is very limited.

Nature’s Foster worked closely with Atree and the United Forest Conservation Network on an SOS funded project targeting White-bellied Heron awareness raising and protection, and continue to advocate for “no go zones” in important White-bellied Heron habitat.

United Forest Conservation Network worked closely with Atree and Nature’s Foster on an SOS funded project targeting White-bellied Heron awareness raising and protection, and continue to advocate for “no go zones” in important White-bellied Heron habitat.

Zoological Survey of India are carrying out research in Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve on foraging and nesting behaviour of the White-bellied Heron.


A number of individual research and academic organisations are also involved in critical research on the species.

Furthermore government officials within each Range State have been fundamental in the progress made thus far and will continue to be so.


Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) is a newly formed coalition, helping to coordinate and promote action for non-marine Southeast Asian vertebrates. ASAP is helping Synchronicity Earth to promote the species and to coordinate efforts in Range States.

BirdLife International are responsible for assessing the species threat status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They have also produced a number of other information products on the species and have helped the Working Group by mapping species distribution and surveyed areas.

Heron Specialist Group and more broadly IUCN SSC and its members continue to help to promote the White-bellied Heron Working Group and provide guidance and support.

Catherine King of VogelZoo Park is chairing the Heron Captive Breeding Working Group and providing expertise to RSPN for planning their captive breeding centre and satellite transmission project.

International Crane Foundation and San Diego Zoological Society have been involved in providing expert advice to RSPN regarding development of a captive breeding facility and trialling headstarting approaches. Recently, appointed, Catherine King of VogelZoo Park is chairing the Heron Captive Breeding Working Group.

IUCN SSC Species Conservation Planning Sub-Committee (SCPSC) was established in order to ensure species planning is more effective and to establish a benchmark of good practice. The SCPSC has worked closely with Synchronicity Earth from the beginning of the process to develop a range-wide Species Conservation Strategy and to plan and facilitate workshops. 

Synchronicity Earth initiated the first range-wide workshop on the species in 2014, helping to plan and execute the workshop, as well as seeking and providing funding. In 2015, it funded and helped plan and facilitate the second range-wide workshop held in Bhutan. Synchronicity Earth co-wrote and brought together the Species Conservation Strategy and continues to donate staff time for the Working Group’s International Coordinator – Gemma Goodman.

Synchronicity Earth has been able to fund some small-scale projects within China and Bhutan on habitat mapping and awareness raising, as well as a scoping study for satellite transmitters.

Gemma Goodman