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Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Near Threatened because its population is suspected to be in moderately rapid decline owing to pollution, drainage, hunting and the collection of eggs and nestlings.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Anhinga melanogaster, A. novaehollandiae (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) and A. rufa (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993, Dowsett and Forbes-Watson 1993), species occurring in Asia, Australasia and Africa, are retained as separate spec

Distribution and population
Anhinga melanogaster occurs in Pakistan (fairly widespread but local year-round resident and irregular visitor to Sind and Punjab), India (widespread resident, locally common in Assam, current status poorly known but apparently declining), Nepal (uncommon resident and non-breeding visitor), Sri Lanka (common resident in dry lowlands, scarce visitor elsewhere), Bangladesh (local resident in northern and coastal regions), Myanmar (previously a widespread resident, now scarce to locally fairly common in south, status uncertain elsewhere), Thailand (formerly widespread, now very rare and possibly no longer breeds, although sightings are increasing in frequency due perhaps to increased protection of breeding colonies in Cambodia), Laos (previously widespread and numerous but numbers have plummeted with only a few sporadic recent records), Vietnam (previously widespread breeder, once locally common but now almost extinct, however, increasing numbers are now recorded in the non-breeding season), Cambodia (abundant in early 1960s with flocks reported to be totalling several thousand observed on the Mekong; currently a local resident in small numbers and still breeds on Tonle Sap Lake, where the largest colony at Prek Toal has grown from 241 nests in 2002 to 6-7,000 nests in 2011), Peninsular Malaysia (vagrant in west, possibly a former resident), Singapore, Brunei (widespread), Indonesia (locally common breeder on Borneo, Java and Sulawesi, vagrant to other islands in the Lesser Sundas and Moluccas) and Timor-Leste (uncommon resident) (BirdLife International 2001). The species is generally uncommon and declining throughout Asia (Perrenou et al. 1994).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number at least 22,000 mature individuals, roughly equvialent to over 33,000 individuals in total.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be in moderately rapid decline, owing to pollution, drainage and hunting.

It inhabits shallow inland wetlands including lakes, rivers, swamps and reservoirs.

In common with many other Asian waterbirds, it is primarily threatened by habitat loss (both degradation of foraging areas and felling of trees used for breeding), pollution, disturbance (at feeding grounds and colonies), hunting, egg collecting and pollution.

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in a number of protected areas. At Prek Toal on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia, WCS initiated a scheme in 2002 that employed former egg collectors as colony guards. Together with MoE staff, they protect and monitor the colony throughout the nesting period from tree top platforms. This has caused the population to increase from 241 nests in 2002 to over 6,000 nests in 2011, doubling the world population during this time period (S. Mahood in litt. 2012).Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to discover new colonies. Regularly monitor known colonies throughout the species's range. Ensure complete and permanent protection of all breeding congregations. Conduct awareness campaigns involving local residents to engender pride in the species and other large waterbirds and prevent hunting.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Taylor, J., Allinson, T

Mahood, S.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Anhinga melanogaster. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Anhingidae (Darters)
Species name author Pennant, 1769
Population size 22000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,230,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species