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Bengal Florican

Houbaropsis bengalensis


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, as well as choreographed strutting – with fluffed up neck feathers and a head pumping action, to attract females.

Bengal Florican is the only member of its genus Houbaropsis, and is the rarest member of the Bustard Order, Ortidiformes. 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 through drainage, conversion to agricultural land and plantations, the invasion of alien species, and damn construction. They are, or were, targeted by hunters for sport and food, leading to their decline.

  • Order: Otidiformes
  • Family: Otididae
  • Population: 350-1,500
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 66-68cm
  • Weight: 1250-2250g

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.80 (?)
ED Score: 19.62 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


There are two populations of Bengal Florican, separated by thousands of kilometres. The western population is found in the Indian Subcontinent; birds here occupy a thin, patchy strip of relict habitat. The larger population is centred in Cambodia, concentrated in the floodplain grasslands that surround the Tonle Sap Lake. A very small number of individuals probably still breed in adjacent areas of Vietnam.

Habitat and Ecology

This species inhabit the short plains of subtropical riverine grassland, though they breed on grasslands towards the end of the dry season and undertake a short migration to low statue open forest. They are omnivores, feeding on insects, as well as seeds, fruits and flowers, and have been known to eat small lizards and snakes. They are very reclusive except in March-May when males competitively display in groups of at least seven birds, widely spaced.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Crops Livestock Hunting Gathering Work

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at:

Download the survival blueprint for this species below. Each survival blueprint is compiled by an EDGE fellow working on the species with input from collaborators and stakeholders. The survival blueprint provides a status review (information on the distribution, protection status, habitat & ecology, threat and stakeholder analysis) and more information on the action programme listed here. 

Vision (30-50 years)

National status of the Bengal Florican is improved by maintaining a healthy and viable population through increasing the area of high quality habitat, improved understanding of its ecology and reduced threats.

Goal (5-10 years)

Assess the status of Bengal Florican and ensure the breeding and non-breeding habitats are safe.


Science based knowledge of Bengal Florican is increased. Critical
Traditional breeding and non-breeding sites and habitats are restored and managed. Critical
Increased awareness of Bengal Florican conservation among all key stakeholders Critical
Partnership among national and international organizations established and maintained. Medium
Feasibility assessment of ex-situ conservation of Bengal Florican conducted and implemented Medium

This Survival Blueprint is for the Action Programme for the Bengal Florican in India

Vision (30-50 years)

Increase the population of Bengal Florican In India by 50% through restoration and management of its habitats.

Goal (5-10 years)

Improve Bengal Florican population and its habitat in India through research and conservation.


Population of Bengal Florican in existing sites increase Critical
Habitat use and movement pattern of Bengal Florican during breeding and non-breeding period is known Critical
Existing Bengal Florican habitats in protected and non-protected areas are well managed Critical
Raised awareness on Bengal Florican conservation among stakeholders Critical
Potential suitable habitats of Bengal Florican are well managed High

Biswajit Chakdar

  • Project name: Strengthening conservation measures of Bengal Florican in North-east India through enhanced ecological knowledge and community awareness
  • Project site: Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, India
  • Active: 2019 - 2022
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Jyotendra Thakuri

  • Project name: Conservation ecology of the Bengal florican in western Nepal
  • Project site: Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, Western Nepal
  • Active: 2016 - 2018
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