Goals Saddle-billed Stork Working Group

The Saddle-billed Stork Working Group (SSWG) is a single-species focused working group under the aegis of the IUCN SSC Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group. Jonah Gula, K.S. Gopi Sundar, and Andre Botha will serve as coordinators for the group. The SSWG resulted from research on range-wide distribution patterns that identified geographic contractions in parts of Africa and an overall less ubiquitous range than previously supposed, as well as a paucity of basic ecological research on the species.

Evidence of Saddle-billed Stork sensitivity to ecological changes dates back to ancient Egyptian times. The Saddle-billed Stork was the earliest and most prominently used hieroglyphic depiction for the religious concept of ba, often associated with the divine, manifestation of the divine, or even the soul. Between c. 2686-2181 B.C. schematics evolved further from the Saddle-billed Stork’s likeness, a trend in Egyptology that reveals the depicter’s personal unfamiliarity with the animal and its disappearance from the region. Climate change and habitat alteration during this period are implicated in all cases of depicted wildlife disappearance from ancient Egypt. The SSWG has chosen the ba hieroglyphic depiction of the Saddle-billed Stork as its logo as a signpost of the species’ susceptibility to habitat change in light of the historical ecology lesson it provides. The historical use of the hieroglyph also demonstrates how recognizable Saddle-billed Storks are and provides a powerful example of why it is an ideal flagship wetland species. Thanks to Mariana Rivera Rodriguez for her artistic help with the logo.

The ultimate goal of the SSWG is to build and maintain a network of partners across Africa for promoting science-based conservation, research, and monitoring of Saddle-billed Stork populations and their habitats. The group’s immediate goal is to initiate research on the species, prioritizing improving understanding of population sizes, ecological requirements, and basic demography–all of which will result in a science-based status assessment and Conservation Plan. The SSWG will achieve its goals by:


  • Creating and maintaining a network for communicating information relevant to Saddle-billed Stork research and conservation, such as:
    • Maintaining a continent-wide Saddle-billed Stork database
  • Facilitating population surveys and other ecological research across the Saddle-billed Stork’s range by:
    • Communicating funding opportunities with members
    • Collaborating with researchers doing work on sympatric wildlife
    • Developing collaborative research and conservation proposals with interested researchers and institutions
    • Promoting citizen science data collection, especially for breeding occurrence

Table 1. Currently known priority countries and potential representative areas for population surveys and research.

Country Area
Angola Cuando River Basin

Quiçama National Park

Benin Pendjari National Park
Bostwana Chobe-Linyanti Ecosystem

Okavango Delta

Burkina Faso Arli National Park
Cameroon Waza-Logone Floodplain
Central African Republic Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park
Chad Greater Zakouma Ecosystem
Ethiopia Gambela National Park

Rift Valley Lakes

Ghana Mole National Park
Guinea-Bissau Bijagos Archipelago
Kenya Lake Naivasha

Maasai Mara

Tsavo National Parks

Malawi Kasungu National Park

Liwonde National Park

Mozambique Gorongosa National Park

Niassa National Preserve

Rio Savane wetlands

Ruvuma River

Zambezi River Delta

Namibia Caprivi Strip

Etosha National Park

Niger W National Park
Nigeria Yankari Game Reserve
Senegal Niokolo-Koba National Park

Saloum River Delta

South Africa Great Kruger Ecosystem
South Sudan Sudd
Sudan Dinder National Park
Tanzania Moyowosi-Kigosi Game Reserve complex

Ngorongoro/Lake Manyara

Greater Ruaha Ecosystem

Selous Game Reserve

Serengeti National Park

Uganda Entebbe/Mabamba Swamp

Murchison Falls National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Zambia Bangweulu Swamp

Kafue Flats

Liuwa Plain National Park

South Luangwa National Park

Zimbabwe Gonarezhou National Park

Hwange National Park

Mana Pools National Park