Thursday, June 28, 2012

Milky Stork

Mycteria cinerea
Today's animal is the Milky Stork, a tall bird with a milky-white body and black flight feathers. They can be found in the marshes, mudflats, and mangroves in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Malaysia. They breed in large, multi-species colonies during the dry season, building nests that can be several feet in diameter.

Milky Storks were historically found throughout Southeast Asia, but they are now locally extinct in several countries and are on the sharp decline in their remaining range. It is estimated that there are only 5,000 of them left in the wild. What are the threats behind this population plummet? Hunting and habitat loss. Land development for agriculture has destroyed many of the mangrove nesting sites that the birds rely on, and they continue to be hunted for food and feathers (eggs are also taken).

It has been illegal to trade Milky Storks internationally since 1987, but domestic exchanges still occur. The birds do appear in some protected areas, and are legally protected in Malaysia and Indonesia, but only time will tell with this species. Captive populations have been breeding successfully, but reintroduction has been slow and less successful than hoped for (though two chicks did hatch in Malaysia in 2010).

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Southeast Asia
Size : Length up to 3.3ft (1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Ciconiiformes
Family : Ciconiidae -- Genus : Mycteria -- Species : M. cinerea

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