The Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps Rex)

Sushi lives at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe and was rescued by their team after locals set fire to the wetlands. Our Drive 4 Wildlife project will help to rescue animals such as these and the vehicle we are sending out to Uganda will help to also protect them in the wild.

Paradise Wildlife Park

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The shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) also known as whaleheadwhale-headed stork, or shoe-billed stork, is a very large stork-like bird. It derives its name from its enormous shoe-shaped bill. It has a somewhat stork-like overall form and has previously been classified with the storks in the order Ciconiiformes based on this morphology. However, genetic evidence places it with the Pelecaniformes. The adult is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner. It lives in tropical east Africa in large swamps from South Sudan to Zambia.

Status and conservation

The population is estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals, the majority of which live in swamps in South Sudan, Uganda, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia. There is also a viable population in the Malagarasi wetlands in Tanzania. BirdLife International has classified it as Vulnerable with the main threats being habitat destruction, disturbance and hunting. The bird is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Habitat destruction and degradation, hunting, disturbance and illegal capture are all contributing factors to the decline of this species. Agriculture cultivation and pasture for cattle have also caused significant habitat loss. Indigenous communities that surround Shoebill habitats capture their eggs and chicks for human consumption and for trade. Frequent fires in southern Sudan and deliberate fires for grazing access contribute to habitat loss. Lastly, swamps in Sudan are being drained for construction of a nearby canal that allows for artificial control of nearby waterways.

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Relationship to humans

This species is considered to be one of the five most desirable birds in Africa by birdwatchers. They are docile with humans and show no threatening behavior. Researchers were able to observe a bird on its nest at a close distance (within 2 meters (6 ft 7 in).

Read more here: Shoebill – Wikipedia

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