Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The overall trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable (Wetlands International 2006).
Behaviour This species is largely sedentary over much of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although it may make seasonal nomadic or dispersive movements related to water availability (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a). It also undertakes annual post-breeding moult migrations to favoured waters (Kear 2005a). The timing of the breeding season in this solitary nester varies geographically, with pairs in some regions nesting in the spring or at the end of the dry season (del Hoyo et al. 1992), whereas nesting in other areas, such as southern Africa, peaks in the middle of winter and does not necessarily correspond with local rainfall patterns (G. Cumming in litt. 2011). Outside of the breeding season the species may occur in flocks consisting of hundreds or thousands of individuals (e.g. during moult), although it is most common in pairs or small groups (Kear 2005a). It forages diurnally (Kear 2005a), mostly in the morning and evening (Johnsgard 1978). Habitat The species inhabits a wide range of freshwater wetlands in open country from sea level up to 4,000 m (Ethiopia) (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992), including reservoirs, dams, pans, lakes, large ponds, rivers, marshes, sewage works, estuaries and offshore islands (Kear 2005a) (although it is generally absent from coastal regions) (Brown et al. 1982). It shows a preference for water-bodies with open shorelines and rich plant growth in close proximity to meadows, grassland and arable land for grazing (del Hoyo et al. 1992), generally avoiding densely forested areas (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of vegetable matter such as the seeds, leaves and stems of grasses and other terrestrial plants, crop shoots (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a) (e.g. maize, wheat, oats, lucerne, groundnuts and barley) (Kear 2005a), potato tubers (del Hoyo et al. 1992), algae and aquatic weeds (Kear 2005a), as well as some animal matter (worms, locusts (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and termite alates (Kear 2005a)). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression (Brown et al. 1982) in plant matter (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992) usually placed not far from water (Madge and Burn 1988). Nest sites are highly variable (Madge and Burn 1988) but include dense vegetation on the ground (Brown et al. 1982, Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a), reedy vegetation near water, the ground under bushes or trees (Kear 2005a), burrows in embankments (Brown et al. 1982), holes and cavities in trees (del Hoyo et al. 1992), cliff ledges and rural buildings, caves (Kear 2005a), and the abandoned nests of other large bird species (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a) up to 60 m above the ground (Brown et al. 1982).
The species is persecuted by shooting and poisoning in parts of its range (it is regarded as an agricultural pest) (Kear 2005a). Utilisation The species is also hunted for sport (del Hoyo et al. 1992) although not in large numbers (Kear 2005a).
Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Malpas, L., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Alopochen aegyptiaca. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/05/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/05/2022.