With its yellow-green eyes, massive beak, and 4-feet tall stance, the shoebill stork looks like a drawing out of a Lewis Carroll book. But these creatures are very real.
The shoebill stork lives in the marshy tropical swamps of East Africa.
They use those massive beaks with a pointy edge to snatch up fish. These birds are even known to hunt small crocodiles and giant monitor lizards to eat.
These guys are so tough that they’ve been named the “King of the Marshes.” They kind of just sit motionless for long periods of time and wait for their prey to wander by.
Let’s just say they’re the strong and silent type.
They pretty much don’t make any noise at all unless they are clapping their bills together in order to greet another bird or call out to their young. They do have a massive wingspan of about 8-feet wide and can fly short distances despite their large size.
They were beloved by the ancient Egyptians and can be found in their artwork. Unfortunately, these age-old animals are on the decline.
This is because of the destruction of their habitat because of oil extraction and farm expansion.
“They are valuable birds, and the almost complete absence of breeding success in captivity maintains a constant pressure on the wild population for meeting trade demands,” researchers wrote according to The Dodo.
Apparently, the birds are highly fragile, despite their strong appearance.
“Shoebills are highly sensitive birds, and past exports have involved high mortality during capture, transit and captivity … Only two zoos have been known to produce chicks —two in 2008 and one in 2009,” researchers said. “This means that captive populations are not self-sustained, and need to be replenished with wild birds if they are to be maintained.”
But there are efforts being taken to preserve the shoebill stork.
Locals who live near their habitats in Mambamba Lake, East Africa have their backs. They are aware of the birds being targeted for trade.
That’s why they formed volunteer groups to watch out for poachers.
They also work with the local law enforcement to report them and bring them to justice. They help people to connect with these animals.
They guide visitors through the heavy marshlands.
Some of the lucky ones actually get to see these incredible animals.
You can see one in action in the video below.
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