Gaint Ibis

photo of two giant ibises in water

Scientific Classification 

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Aves 

Order – Pelecaniformes 

Family –  Threskiornithidae 

Genus – Thaumatibis 

Species – T gigantea 

Scientific Name – Thaumatibis gigantea 

Giant ibis is a hulking gray is the size of a large goose, giant ibis is the largest bird in the ibis family, the second largest is almost half of the giant ibis. Ibis has a distinctive long-bodied appearance. Giant ibis has a wrinkly bald head, dark back, and scalloped wings. 


  • Giant ibis is 102-106 cm, it is huge and dark, adults are mostly dark with naked greyish head and upper neck. Hind Crown has dark bands on it and wing coverts are nape and pale greyish 
  • Juveniles hind crown and neck has short grey feathers, lacking the dark bands on the hind crown and nape unlike the adults 

About giant ibis 

  • In 2005, giant ibis was declared as the national bird of Cambodia, helping to raise its profile and boost conservation efforts 
  • Giant Ibis is mostly found in northern and eastern Cambodia but is scattered in some other parts but is extremely rare.
  • Giant ibis are usually seen in singles, pairs, or small parties which occur in marshes, pools, rivers, and seasonal meadows in lowland forests or open deciduous 
  • Giant ibis is dependent on soft mud around, its diet comprises invertebrates, crustaceans, reptiles, eels, and small amphibians. It feeds on all this in soft mud 
  • Giant ibis nests in trees farther from the human population, females usually lay 2 eggs per clutch in the wet season 
  • Giant Ibis have long, curved beaks that they use for foraging in shallow waters and between vegetation. 
  • Giant ibis is shy by nature, the birds feed in secluded forest pools that are far from villages. As a lowland bird, it likes to wade in the water, preferably swamps, lakes, rivers, flooded plains, ponds, and seasonal water meadows.

The immense growth in human population, destruction of habitat through development for logging, habitation and single-crop agriculture, bird trafficking, egg collecting pollution are the major reasons for the endangerment for various birds and giant ibis is one of the birds which has become endangered 

Reasons for endangerment of giant ibis 

  • Due to hunting and egg collecting, the species has declined. Deforestation and wetland drainage for agriculture is also a reason
  • Habitat conversion by economic land concessions was recently identified as the greatest threat 
  • The growth in infrastructure caused by the rise in population in Cambodia has been a reason for the areas of the birds to deplete and also small scale agricultural expansion is also one of the threats 
  • Giant ibis depend on seasonal pools which were maintained in the past but now have depleted 

Gaint Ibis

a close up of Giant Ibis

Justification of why it is endangered 

  • Giant ibis has a very less population which has undergone an extremely rapid decline cause of hunting, lowland deforestation, and disturbance 
  • The population of giant ibis is likely to continue to decline rapidly cause of the deforestation and disturbances by human 
  • The population of giant ibis is estimated to be 194, which is very low and therefore qualifies as critically endangered 
  • The extreme fall in numbers of the giant ibis is said to occur during the last three generations and it is projected that there will be a rapid depletion in the next three generation 
  • In the range of giant ibis area, encroachment and land conversion is happening at a rapid pace
  • Giant ibis are shy and highly sensitive to human disturbances so the increasing deforestation affect the remaining population 

Conservation actions for giant ibis 

  • The hunting of giant ibis was prohibited in Cambodia in 1994 and the species was listed as critically endangered in Cambodia in 2007
  • A 10-year Giant Ibis National Action Plan was initiated in 2015 which plans to stable or increase the population and also the species will inhabit a network of well-protected sites 
  • Actions are ongoing to protect the species breeding and foraging habitat, management to improve breeding success currently involves targeted actions to protect nests and interaction with local communities 

By Sanket Sawant


Tags: beauty, birds

One Comment

  1. Sindhu

    very distinct species and very rare bird

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