BirdLife species factsheet for Great Thick-knee Great Thick-knee Esacus recurvirostris is located from SE Iran through the Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka to Indochina and Hainan (S China). It is currently listed as being of Least Concern, on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. However, Thewlis et al. (1998) noted that the species had declined greatly in Laos, noting that there were very few records despite extensive searches of suitable habitat along the Mekong (Thewlis et al. 1998), whereas it was noted to be a common resident along the Mekong in Savannakhet Province during the mid-20th century (David-Beaulieu 1949-1950 in Thewlis et al. 1998). Eggs of the species are collected by local people in the Ban Hangkhon area of Laos (Boonhong Mounsouphon and I. Baird verbally 1995 in Thewlis et al. 1998) and predation by dogs has been recorded (Thewlis et al. 1998). Furthermore, Rasmussen and Anderton (2012) describe the species as widespread but now very local in South Asia. Species occupying similar habitats and with a similar range to this species, such as River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii, River Tern Sterna aurantia and Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda, have recently been uplisted under the A criterion of the IUCN Red List (to Near Threatened, Near Threatened and Endangered respectively), owing to similar pressures. At least in south-east Asia, Great Thick-knee has been described as between these species of tern and River Lapwing in its trajectory towards regional extinction (W. Duckworth in litt. 2012). It is possible that over the past three generations (32 years, based on an estimated generation length of 10.5 years) this species has experienced a moderately rapid (approaching 30%) or rapid (30-49%) population decline, which is likely to continue into the future. The species could therefore warrant uplisting to Near Threatened (approaching 30% over three generations) or Vulnerable (30-49% decline) under criterion A2cd+3cd+4cd. If moderately rapid declines are not yet suspected to be taking place, but future threats such as dam development and increasing human pressures, such as direct exploitation, disturbance and predation by animals associated with humans, are predicted to cause declines to become moderately rapid or rapid over the next three generations, this species would warrant uplisting to Near Threatened (approaching 30% over three generations) or Vulnerable (30-49% decline) under criterion A3cd. Further information is requested on this species’s population trends and size. Comments on the severity of threats to this species are also welcome. References: Rasmussen, P. C. and Anderton, J. C. (2012) Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Volume 2: Attributes and Status. Second Edition. National Museum of Natural History – Smithsonian Institution, Michigan State University and Lynx Edicions, Washington, D. C., Michigan and Barcelona. Thewlis, R. M. Timmins, R. J., Evans, T. D. and Duckworth, W. (1998) The conservation status of birds in Laos: a review of key species. Bird Conservation International 8 (Supplement): 1-159.
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