Swamp Grass-babbler Laticilla cinerascens


Justification of Red List Category
This species is suspected to be undergoing a very rapid decline as a result of extensive habitat loss which has fragmented its habitat. Its population is potentially fragmented into small subpopulations but the species is very rarely recorded, and is poorly known. Therefore its population size could be potentially smaller and the species may warrant uplisting in the future.

Population justification
There are very few recent records (J. Eaton in litt. 2016) and based on an assessment of known records, range size and descriptions of abundance this species may have a population size in the band 250-2,499 mature individuals, with <250 mature individuals per possible subpopulation.

Trend justification
A very rapid and on-going decline is suspected, owing to habitat loss and degradation.

Distribution and population

Laticilla cinerascens is found in the plains of the Brahmaputra River, Assam and western Bihar in north-east India and adjacent northern Bangladesh (with possibly no records in Bangladesh since the early 1970s [P. Thompson in litt. 2011]). It now appears to be very localised or present at very low densities along the Brahmaputra River, perhaps owing to specialised habitat requirements (J. Eaton in litt. 2010, R, Kumar Das in litt. 2011).


This species is found in long grasslands, sometimes where mixed with acacias and tamarisks, mainly in the vicinity of large rivers and their tributaries and in swamps. It may have very specialised habitat requirements that result in a very localised distribution or low population densities (J. Eaton in litt. 2010, R. K. Das in litt. 2011).


The destruction and modification of grassland and wetland habitats for agricultural development, harvest of vitever and thatch (A. Rahmani in litt. 2016) is on-going throughout the species's range. The species is poorly known and seldom recorded, and may be  intolerant of habitat change. There are unlikely to be any patches of suitable year-round habitat remaining in Bangladesh, as most floodplain grasslands are harvested before complete innundation during the monsoon (P. Thompson in litt. 2011). Monitored birds near Dibru-Saikhowa National Park suffered almost total habitat loss in 2010 when local villagers cleared grassland for agriculture, and birds have since been seen in open grassland nearby (R. K. Das in litt. 2011). It is probably also threatened by the impacts of livestock grazing in reserves such as Dibru Saikhowa (J. Eaton in litt. 2011), and grasslands within Protected Areas are managed for large mammals, so grass burning may occur at times of year that could impact upon this species (A. Rahmani in litt. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been the subject of monitoring at Dibru-Saikhowa National Park (Rajan Kumar in litt. 2011), and it occurs in a number of other protected areas (e.g. D’Ering Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal [A. Rahmani in litt. 2016]).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys within the species's range to determine its current distribution, local abundance, total population size and population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation throughout its range. Conduct ecological studies to improve understanding of its precise habitat requirements, with a particular focus on levels of tolerance of secondary habitats. Effectively protect significant areas of suitable habitat at key sites, in both strictly protected areas and community-led multiple use areas.


Text account compilers
Gilroy, J., Benstead, P., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.

Thompson, P., Rahmani, A., Inskipp, T., Eaton, J., Das, K., Wilson, D., Inskipp, C., Baral, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Laticilla cinerascens. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/06/2022.