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 may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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.
Previous estimate of 36,000 - 1,000,000 (Wetlands International, 2006) revised, decreasing the population minimum by 5,000 individuals representing the newly-split species R. australis.
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).
Behaviour This species is partially migratory or nomadic, making short migratory movements in China, India and Japan, and irregular seasonal short-distance movements in Africa corresponding to feeding- and breeding-habitat requirements (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The timing of breeding varies geographically although the species is known to breed during or immediately after the rains in Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It usually nests and forages in solitary pairs, although nests may be grouped together in wetlands (due to its polyandrous mating system) and it is occasionally observed in small parties or larger groups of up to 100 individuals during the non-breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species is crepuscular (Hayman et al. 1986) and roosts in cover by day and night singly or in groups of up to 3 individuals (Urban et al. 1986). Habitat The species shows a preference for recently flooded areas in shallow lowland freshwater temporary or permanent wetlands (Marchant and Higgins 1993) in the tropics and subtropics, its patterns of habitat use being governed by the rains (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Suitable habitats include extensive swamps and marshes (Hayman et al. 1986), reedbeds, overgrown rice-fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996), inundated or waterlogged grassland and saltmarsh (Marchant and Higgins 1993), the muddy margins of pools, freshwater lakes with grassy islets, sewage pools, reservoirs, mudflats overgrown with marsh grass and mangroves (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and thickly vegetated banks of slow-flowing rivers (Urban et al. 1986). It requires emergent vegetation in shallow water for nesting (Hayman et al. 1986) and occasionally forages on open grassland adjacent to wetlands (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet The species is omnivorous, its diet consisting of insects (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. crickets and grasshoppers) (Urban et al. 1986), snails, earthworms, crustaceans and seeds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow cup (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in a mound of vegetation (Hayman et al. 1986) on the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996), concealed amongst thick emergent vegetation in shallow water (Hayman et al. 1986). Alternatively nests may be placed in more open environments such as on dense mat of floating water-weed (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Rostratula benghalensis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into R. benghalensis and R. australis following Christidis and Boles (2008).
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Rostratula benghalensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/03/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/03/2021.