The Giant Ibis (scientifically Pseudibis gigantea) is a pelecaniform bird that is part of the list of the rarest animals in the world. Although in Cambodia it is not very strange, since it was in this place where it was discovered in 1877 and officially became its national bird.
This rare bird is also the largest species of Ibis in the world. There’s no record of any of them outgrowing it.
There are at least three reasons why this bird is rare: its peculiar appearance, its unique behavior and the few specimens left in the world.
Characteristics of the Giant Ibis
Since it is the largest Ibis in the world, we must begin to describe it by referring to its size. From its beak to its tail, it measures 1 meter 6 centimeters, while from its height it reaches one meter. Its average weight is 4.2 kilograms.
With regard to its plumage, it is grey and dark brown in adults, but the young have short black feathers.
The eyes are dark red, while the legs are orange. All these shades represent a magnificent contrast of colours. Another of the main characteristics of this rare bird is its long, curved, yellow beak.
When the Ibis flies high, it remains with its neck and legs stretched out, as does the crane. Its life expectancy is between 25 and 30 years.
What is the Habitat of the Giant Ibis
It is a rare and very territorial animal that can remain for a whole year in the same place. It can live in lakes, rivers, swamps, open forests and plains. To all these habitats it adapts very easily.
Geographically, the giant ibis is located in the north of Cambodia, as well as in Laos and Vietnam. Although the number of specimens is decreasing dramatically.
What does the Giant Ibis eat?
The giant ibis is an omnivorous animal, that is, it feeds on both meat and plants, it can eat practically anything.
Its main diet is made up of a diversity of animals such as crustaceans, eels, small amphibians and reptiles. Occasionally it also consumes seeds, insects such as locusts and cicadas and even soft mud.
In the breeding season its eating habits may change a little and it consumes preferably frogs and crickets.
Reproduction of the Giant Ibis
Very little is known about the reproduction of the giant ibis. However, according to some of the research carried out, it was determined that like other species of the same family, it reaches sexual maturity at three or four years of age.
The ibis has only one partner in its life. They become so attached to each other that there have been reported cases where when one dies, the other enters into a deep sadness that causes it to stop eating and starve, and even throw itself off a cliff to take its own life.
The giant ibis builds its nests high up in the trees, far away from humans.
The breeding season takes place in the rainy season from June to September.
Predators and Threats to this bird
Although the Ibis in general has several predators among which are snakes, foxes and wild cats. Although it is rare for these species to capture a giant ibis because of its large size.
However, when they lay their eggs they can be easy prey for predators. But this is also the fate that often befalls the chicks at birth.
The introduction of exotic species and certain mammals has also increased the risk of predation for the giant ibis.
Since 2014, the giant ibis has been on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list in the category of critically endangered and is considered the most threatened bird in the world.
The reasons for this are its hunting and the negative impact of human activities.
Thus, man is the main predator of this huge bird, deforesting the areas where it lives or modifying them for agricultural purposes.