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The lesser fish-eagle (Ichthyophaga humilis) is a bird of prey found along the banks of rivers and other natural waterways, like the Hiran River in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park (TNBBBR), Central Kalimantan.

Whilst patrolling on the Hiran River, the members of our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team regularly spot lesser fish-eagles, perched and drying their feathers along the banks. They have also seen this birds catching fish from the river, using their sharp claws. In the afternoons, when our PRM team has finished observing orangutans, a lesser fish-eagle will often pass by the boat, as though leading the team back to camp.

This eagle is around 60 cm in length, with brownish-coloured feathers on its head and neck and a white abdomen. It looks similar to the grey-headed fish-eagle, but is smaller in size, with a dark tail.

Lesser fish-eagle of Hiran by Erwin Santoso

Lesser fish-eagle of Hiran by Erwin Santoso

The lesser fish-eagle occupies lowland-temperate areas and is widespread across Southeast Asia - from the Himalayas, to the Malay Peninsula, and Indonesia’s islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. The lesser fish-eagle is a species protected by Government Regulation No. 7, 1999, and is included in the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) agreement, Appendix II. However, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has not yet classed it as a threatened species and evaluates its status as ‘Near Threatened”.

While it is not yet threatened under IUCN evaluation criteria, it is still an important species that must be protected, to prevent populations from dwindling and risking extinction. It is much easier to prevent decline than reverse it, so let’s keep an eye out for these impressive raptors and protect their wild homes!

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