Lesser Fish-eagle Icthyophaga humilis


Justification of Red List category
This species depends on forest-fringed waterbodies with good stocks of fish. It is thought to be undergoing a moderately rapid population reduction owing to forest degradation, over-fishing and perhaps especially, pollution, and may already have a moderately small population. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened

Population justification
The global population is preliminarily estimated to number 10,000-50,000 mature individuals, pending further research. This is roughly equivalent to 15,000-75,000 individuals in total.

Trend justification
A moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rates of habitat loss and degradation.

Distribution and population

Ichthyophaga humilis occurs in India (restricted to Himalayan foothills and north-east, with an additional small population in Karnataka state in the south [Lethaby 2005]; declining in range and population), Bangladesh, Nepal (rare and local in lowlands), Bhutan (very rare at lower altitudes), China (rare visitor to Hainan), Myanmar (widespread, scarce to locally fairly common), Thailand (rare in west and south), Cambodia (recently recorded - status unclear [P. Davidson in litt. 2003]), Laos (small numbers persist in several catchments, although fragmentation of populations and their small size renders them vulnerable to local extinction), Vietnam (rare to locally fairly common in west Tonkin and south Annam), Peninsular Malaysia (previously common; now scarce to locally fairly common but declining) and east Malaysia, Brunei (scarce), Indonesia (uncommon in Sumatra and Borneo; locally common in south-east Sulawesi, uncommon to rare elsewhere, and in the Sula islands and Buru) (BirdLife International 2001).


It frequents large forested rivers and wetlands in the lowlands and foothills up to 2,400 m, but usually below 1,000 m.


Loss of forest habitat along rivers, siltation, over-fishing and increasing human disturbance of waterways are causing widespread declines. It is also declining in Uttar Pradesh, India, partly because of pesticide use and this is presumably relevant throughout much of its range.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to reveal important areas and regularly monitor at various sites throughout its range. Protect forest in areas known to be important to the species. Research the link between pesticide use and the decline.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Mahood, S. & Taylor, J.

Davidson, P. & Naoroji, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Icthyophaga humilis. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/lesser-fish-eagle-icthyophaga-humilis on 24/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 24/09/2023.