Royal Society for Protection of Nature

White-bellied heron, Bhutan © Lubomir Peske

Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) is the only Bhutanese led wildlife conservation organisation. RSPN carries out environmental education, species-focused research and conservation, and supports community-based, nature-friendly livelihoods.

One of RSPN’s key focuses is on the Critically Endangered White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis). According to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species there are an estimated 50-249 individual adults worldwide. However, recent research has found no more than approximately 60 individuals worldwide. Bhutan is one of its key strongholds.

RSPN has worked tirelessly for the past 30 years to monitor and understand the White-bellied Heron, seeking to protect it from emerging threats in the country. Their work includes species surveys and monitoring, awareness raising and advocacy work. RSPN also successfully piloted the first ever captive rearing of White-bellied Heron in 2011, and has now commenced the building of the world’s first White-bellied Heron captive breeding facility in Bhutan. They have undertaken a number of trial approaches to protecting the species and mitigating threats including setting-up artificial feeding sites and tagging fledglings with satellite transmitters to better understand dispersal and mortality.

Synchronicity Earth has worked in close partnership with RSPN, along with others, in the development of the White-bellied Heron Working Group, and a species conservation action plan for the bird. Synchronicity Earth has also worked with RSPN to build the capacity of their staff members and has supported the use of new research techniques in Bhutan.

At A Glance