This otherwise reclusive bird is best known for its elaborate courtship display where the male’s black and white plumage is shown off to good effect in short arching display flights to attract females. Two thirds of the global population breed in the floodplain of the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia; they migrate up to 100km annually to escape the floodwaters in the non-breeding season. Thousands of kilometres away in Nepal and India, there exists another population of the same species which occupies the duars and terai grasslands along the base of the Himalayas. Both populations are in decline and threatened by habitat loss and illegal hunting. The total global population has been estimated at fewer than 1,000 adults, with some studies suggesting as few as 500.
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Packman, C. E., Gray, T. N. E., Collar, N. J., Evans, T. D., van Zalinge, R. N., Son Virak, Lovett, A. A. & Dolman, P. M. (2013) Rapid loss of Cambodia’s grasslands. Conservation Biology 27: 245–247.
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Text compiled by Michelle Harrison. Factchecked by Markus Handschuh, Hem Baral and Simon Mahood.
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