Marabou Leptoptilos crumenifer


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). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not 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.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be increasing as with the increasing availability of waste as a food resource.


Behaviour This species is sedentary or locally nomadic (Hancock et al. 1992, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Populations in the north and south generally move towards the equator after breeding and other populations making dispersive movements in relation to water availablity (del Hoyo et al. 1992) or prey abundance (Hancock et al. 1992). In the tropics the species begins to breed in the dry season, but in the equatorial zone the timing of breeding is more variable (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It breeds in colonies numbering from 20-60 up to several thousand pairs and often nests with other species (del Hoyo et al. 1992). When not breeding the species often remains gregarious, feeding in groups and gathering at night in communal roosts of up to 1,000 individuals (Hancock et al. 1992). It may also associate with herds of large mammals in order to catch insects disturbed by their movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Habitat It inhabits open dry savannas, grasslands, swamps, riverbanks, lake shores and receding pools (del Hoyo et al. 1992) where fish are concentrated (Hancock et al. 1992), typically foraging in and around fishing villages (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of carrion and scraps of fish discarded by humans as well as live fish, termites, locusts, frogs, lizards, snakes, rats, mice and birds (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. adult flamingoes Phoenicopterus spp.) (Brown et al. 1982). Breeding site The nest is constructed of sticks (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and is positioned 10-30 m above the ground in trees, on cliffs (del Hoyo et al. 1992) or on buildings in towns and villages (Brown et al. 1982). The species breeds colonially in single- or mixed-species groups (del Hoyo et al. 1992), usually in close proximity (less than 50-60 km) to a reliable food source (Hancock et al. 1992).


Utilisation This species is hunted and traded at traditional medicine markets in Nigeria (Nikolaus 2001).


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Leptoptilos crumenifer. Downloaded from on 20/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/10/2021.