Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: White-bellied heron

Nominated by: International Rivers

Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Why do you love it? This is a beautiful, solitary, and very tall bird who’s been described as “extremely shy.” It’s the second-tallest heron in the world, and adults can reach one metre tall. It feeds on fish in clear, fast-flowing rivers. The sighting of this heron is an indicator of the health and well-being of a mountainscape, a river, and a region’s biodiversity.

What are the threats to the white-bellied heron? Many of the few remaining white-bellied herons live in Bhutan, but decades of hydropower development have disturbed Bhutan’s rivers and fish populations. Power lines are also a danger to this species when it is in flight.

What are you doing to save it? We are working in Bhutan to raise awareness about the white-bellied heron as an indicator of the state of Bhutan’s rivers, and promoting alternatives to hydropower that would allow Bhutan to save its free-flowing rivers (and all the wildlife that depends on them) while generating the power it needs.

Find out more about the work of International Rivers

Discover more heron and bittern species on Arkive



Nov 16
Image of white-bellied heron

White-bellied heron (Ardea insignis)


Species: White-bellied heron (Ardean insignis)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: Also known as the imperial heron, the white-bellied heron is the second largest species of heron in the world, exceeded in size only by the Goliath heron.

More information:

The white-bellied heron is a large, long-necked species, named for its white underbelly and wing linings. It has a blackish head topped with a pale plume of feathers, and a brownish-grey body. The most outstanding feature of the white-bellied heron is its massive pointed bill, which measures about 15 to 18 cm in length.

Although primarily a solitary bird with a large territory, during the winter months the white-bellied heron may fly up to 30 kilometres to join other members of its species.

The white-bellied heron is resident in Southeast Asia, having been seen in Bangladesh and surrounding countries. It is now believed to be extinct in Nepal.

The white-bellied heron favours mature forests, a habitat that has been at risk from deforestation for over a century. It is also under threat from the fragmentation and degradation of its wetland habitats through pollution, over-exploitation of resources and the rapid growth of aquatic vegetation due to leaching of artificial fertilisers. In addition, the white-bellied heron is vulnerable to disturbance and habitat degradation as a result of agricultural expansion, human settlements and poaching, as well as overfishing.

The white-bellied heron population is extremely small, at fewer than 250 mature individuals, and is rapidly declining, putting this species at severe risk of extinction.

In May 2011, the first white-bellied heron chick to be bred in captivity hatched, as a result of a project by The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) in Bhutan. There have been reported sightings of the white-bellied heron in protected areas of north-eastern India, and there are more protected areas proposed both in India and Bhutan which might lead to an increase in population size.


Find out more about the white-bellied heron at BirdLife International and Heron Conservation.

See images of the white-bellied heron on ARKive.


Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author


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