Using community-based interviews to determine population size, distribution and nest site characteristics of Pallas's fish eagle in north-east Bangladesh
Pallas's fish eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus was recategorized from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2017 because of evidence that there is only a single population, which is declining as a result of continuous, widespread loss and degradation of freshwater wetlands. To determine the species’ status in Bangladesh, we conducted a large-scale community-based interview survey in north-east Bangladesh in 2017–2020. We also examined nest site habitat characteristics through field surveys and remotely sensed data. We conducted a total of 955 interviews in an area of 4,150 km2, through which we were able to determine the presence of 53 breeding pairs at a mean density of 1.2 nests per 100 km2. There was a higher nest density (3.7–4.8 nests per 100 km2) in some locations, which we identify as priority conservation areas. The majority of nests (62.2%) were close together and on tall trees with an open canopy structure. Nests were located within or close to (< 100 m) human settlements, and within 500 m of wetlands and rivers. Felling of nest trees, removal of nests by local people and loss of permanent wetlands (14.6% during 2010–2020) appeared to be the main threats. High nesting density in our study area suggests that the freshwater wetlands in north-east Bangladesh possibly hold the largest population of Pallas's fish eagle globally.