Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Review article2021Peer reviewed

The Asian Woollyneck Ciconia episcopus: A review of its status, distribution and ecology

Ghimire, Prashant; Ghimire, Rojina; Low, Matthew; Bist, Bhuwan Singh; Pandey, Nabin


The Asian Woollyneck Ciconia episcopus is a stork found throughout Asia whose international conservation status is currently being considered for reclassification from vulnerable to near-threatened. However, much of what is known about this species is fragmented across observational reports and small studies making a comprehensive assessment of population trends difficult. Here, we bring together all available published information to see what is known and what research questions still need answering in order to make reliable assessments of regional population trends and identify probable drivers of decline. Despite the species likely being extinct in the extremes of its former range and evidence of dramatic declines in Southeast Asia, Asian Woollyneck appears to be stable or increasing in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Observations of its preferred foraging and nesting habitats in South versus Southeast Asia show some obvious differences that may explain regional variations in population trends. In South Asia the bird is common in open grasslands and agricultural areas, while in Southeast Asia it is mostly observed in forested areas. Also, reports of the Asian Woollyneck nesting on cell phone towers is increasing in South Asia. However, because of a severe lack of reporting from Southeast Asia, it is unclear if or how these regional differences in population trends and habitat use are linked. Structured surveys and studies into the Asian Woollyneck foraging, nesting and movement ecology are urgently needed to understand the extent and drivers of decline in Southeast Asia. Therefore, researchers should focus future studies on population trends across the species' range, and aim to identify the local factors influencing recent changes in population growth. Without such knowledge, reassessment of its conservation status may be premature.


Asian Woollyneck; Bird Distribution; Land-use change; Review; Status

Published in

Ornithological science
2021, Volume: 20, number: 2, pages: 223-233

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification


    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)