Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small, declining population as a result of the widespread loss, degradation and disturbance of wetlands and breeding sites throughout its range. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.
The global population is estimated to number < c.10,000 mature individuals (by BirdLife International 2001) based on detailed analysis of available records, while the population in China has been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs (Brazil 2009). It is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rates of loss, degradation and disturbance of wetland habitats and adjacent nesting trees throughout its range.
Haliaeetus leucoryphus occurs across a huge range from Kazakhstan (may no longer breed, although a positive trend has been noted in the number of records since the late 1990s at least [Kovalenko 2009]), southern Russia (possibly still breeds), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan (probably dispersing non-breeders) and Uzbekistan, east through Mongolia and China, south to northern India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is a passage migrant and winter visitor to Nepal and non-breeding visitor to Afghanistan. The main breeding populations are believed to be in China, Mongolia and the Indian subcontinent. Surveys in Mongolia in June-August 2009 produced observations of a minimum total of 20 birds at eight locations (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009). It is believed to have declined significantly during the 20th century in China, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The population is likely to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals.
It is closely associated with wetlands, principally large lakes and rivers, from the lowlands to 5,000 m. It generally nests in trees near water.
Key threats are habitat loss, degradation and disturbance. Across the Indian subcontinent, and probably most of its range, wetlands have been drained or converted for agriculture and human settlements. The felling of large trees near wetlands has reduced the availability of nest and roost sites. The spread of water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes is a problem in India, as is the siltation of lakes due to catchment deforestation. Pollution of wetlands with pesticides and industrial effluents reduces breeding success. Habitat loss and degradation are compounded by disturbance of wetlands. Reductions in the prey base, primarily through hunting and over-fishing, are further consequences of increasing human pressure. In Myanmar, the development of oil and gas fields is a threat and, in China, hunting is a localised problem. In Mongolia, during surveys in summer 2009, it was noted that two recently completed hydroelectric dams were severely disrupting water levels in the affected drainage basins and could potentially affect all sites where the species occurs in the Great Lake Basin (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009). Over-fishing was also noted at several sites and low rainfall was leading to falling water levels in some areas (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II, CMS Appendix II. It occurs in many protected areas across its range such as Corbett, Kaziranga and Manas, India and Chitwan, Nepal.
76-84 cm. Large eagle with pale brownish hood and black-and-white tail. Adult dark brown, with warm buffish to whitish head, neck and upper mantle and blackish tail with broad, white central band. Juvenile more uniformly dark, with all-dark tail, but in flight shows strongly patterned underwing, with whitish band across coverts and prominent, whitish primary flashes. Similar spp. Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus and White-tailed Eagle H. albicilla both lack combination of dark body, contrasting pale hood and black-and-white tail pattern. Grey-headed is also much smaller. Voice Loud, guttural kha-kha-kha-kha or gao-gao-gao-gao, and sometimes high-pitched, excited yelping. Hoarse guttural continuous kook-kook-kook is commonest call.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J. & Symes, A.
Naoroji, R. & Rahmani, A.
BirdLife International (2017) Species factsheet: Haliaeetus leucoryphus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/10/2017. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/10/2017.