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Madagascar Crested Ibis Lophotibis cristata
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Near Threatened as its population is projected to decline moderately rapidly in the future owing to the poaching of adults, young and eggs, as well as deforestation.

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.

A large red-and-white forest ibis. Body mostly reddish, with iridescent green feathers on head and crest, which has a yellowish or whitish tip. Bare skin around eye and legs red. Wings white, bill pale yellow. Similar spp. Difficult to mistake for anything else. Voice Calls loudly at night, a creaking ank-ank-ank-ank-ank. Hints Rather secretive forest ibis, often feeding in damp valley-bottoms or along forest trails, from where it is often flushed before flying noisily away through the canopy. Builds large nest in canopy.

Distribution and population
Lophotibis cristata is endemic to Madagascar, where it is widespread and locally common, occurring in all types of native forest from sea-level to 2,000 m, including 44 Important Bird Areas (52% of the national total) (Dee 1986; Langrand 1990; ZICOMA 1999).

Population justification
The population has been estimated at 10,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 6,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining, and is projected to decline at a steeper rate in the future owing to intense hunting pressure and habitat destruction.

In the east it seems relatively adaptable, having been recorded in secondary woodland habitats such as relict trees in and around vanilla and oil-palm plantations (Langrand 1990), but only where these are close to areas of primary habitat (Morris and Hawkins 1998). It inhabits all types of native woodland, including humid forest in the north and east, and dry forest in the south and west (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is occasionally seen in mangroves (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It usually feeds in pairs on the forest floor, eating invertebrates and small vertebrates including frogs and reptiles (Morris and Hawkins 1998), and it nests in large trees within the forest. Breeding occurs at the start of the rainy season (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The nest is a large platform made of branches, usually in major forks of trees, 7-15 m above the forest floor. It may lay two eggs, but usually three. The species is presumed to be sedentary, although there are uncorroborated past claims that eastern populations are migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1992).

It is universally known by hunters and others who live in forested areas, and is a favoured quarry species wherever it occurs (Dee 1986). Birds are caught by traps and snares, and eggs, nestlings and even adults are taken off the nest (Goodman et al. 1997b). Over-hunting may therefore threaten this species in the future. Its forest habitat is being destroyed, especially in the east, where deforestation is intense (del Hoyo et al. 1992).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected from hunting by law, although it is still intensely hunted and trapped (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an estimate of the population size. Monitor rates of deforestation. Monitor rates of hunting, trapping and nest-robbing. Enforce legislation that protects the species from hunting. Place more areas of the species's habitat under protection. Conduct further research into its ecology.

Byers, O. 1995. Stork, ibis and spoonbill conservation assessment and management plan: working document. IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Apple Valley, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Dee, T. J. 1986. The endemic birds of Madagascar. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Goodman, S. M.; Pidgeon, M.; Hawkins, A. F. A.; Schulenberg, T. S. 1997. The birds of southeastern Madagascar. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL.

Langrand, O. 1990. Guide to the birds of Madagascar. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Morris, P.; Hawkins, F. 1998. Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

ZICOMA. 1999. Zones d'Importance pour la Conservation des Oiseaux a Madagascar.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Lophotibis cristata. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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 - Madagascar crested ibis (Lophotibis cristata) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Threskiornithidae (Ibises, Spoonbills)
Species name author (Boddaert, 1783)
Population size 6700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 535,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species