Justification of Red List Category
Although widespread, this species is now only locally common and may have a moderately small population, which is thought to be undergoing a moderately rapid population reduction owing to habitat degradation, pollution and over-fishing. It is therefore classified as Near Threatened as it almost qualifies for listing under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd;C1+2a(i).
This species's global population is preliminarily estimated at 10,000-100,000 mature individuals on the basis that it may not exceed a five-figure total. This estimate equates to 15,000-150,000 individuals in total.
A moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rates of habitat degradation and levels of pollution and over-fishing.
Icthyophagus icthyaetus occurs in India (widespread and locally frequent in the north-east, scarce and local in the peninsula, Nepal (now rare and local, mainly below 250 m), Sri Lanka (rare in the dry lowlands), Bangladesh (widely distributed but uncommon and local), Myanmar (rare to scarce resident), Philippines (formerly quite common in the north and east, now rare and apparently declining), Thailand (formerly a widespread resident, now absent from north and centre, rare and local in the south), Laos (now rare), Vietnam (scarce in south, disappearing from north), Cambodia (scarce and declining [P. Davidson in litt. 2003]), Peninsular Malaysia (previously common, now uncommon and sparse, perhaps 40 pairs remaining), east Malaysia, Singapore (scarce), Brunei (scarce), and the Greater Sundas and Sulawesi, Indonesia (widely distributed but uncommon in Sumatra and Borneo, and now very rare in Java) (Collar et al. 2000). Although widely distributed, the species is local and declining in most parts of its range through loss of forested wetlands. However, historical and even recent records are difficult to interpret, in South-East Asia at least, due to identification difficulties between this species and Lesser Fish-eagle I. humilis.
It is found near slow-moving rivers and streams, lakes, reservoirs and tidal lagoons in wooded country, usually in lowlands but ascending locally to 1,525 m.
The most pertinent threats are the loss of undisturbed wetlands, over-fishing, siltation, pollution and persecution. The construction of dams on the Mekong River has potential negative implications for the flood regime of Lake Tonle Sap and the Fish-eagle population there.
Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Taylor, J. & Ashpole, J
Davidson, P. & Naoroji, R.
BirdLife International (2017) Species factsheet: Icthyophaga ichthyaetus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/11/2017. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/11/2017.