|(Photo from Anifuate - Follow Me)|
Occurs in wetlands throughout Africa, with the exception of the countries northwest of the Sahara. Present from Egipt, Mali and Mauritania in the north, all the way down to South Africa. In Asia the species is present along the southernmost areas of the continent, from the Arabian Peninsula, through Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, and into India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The goliath heron is the largest heron in the World, with a length of 120-152 cm and a wingspan of 185-230 cm. These birds can weigh up to 5 kg.
Uses both coastal and inland wetland habitats, including lakes, swamps, mangroves, flood plains and also river deltas and estuaries, reefs and waterholes in woodland savanna.
Like most herons, it hunts by standing motionless in shalows or floating vegetation, waiting for the prey to come within range, after which it spears the prey with its open bill. It preys on a varity of animals including fish, amphibians, small lizards and snakes, small mammals, crabs and prawns and aquatic insects.
The breeding season takes place between November and March. Unlike other herons, this species nests in solitary pairs which build a nest with sticks and reeds on a small tree or in bushes that are surrounded by water, either in islands or river banks and lake shores. The female lays 2-5 pale blue eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 24-30 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 5 weeks after hatching, but remain with their parents for another 2-3 months.
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 6.700-67.000 individuals. Currently the population is stable, with no significant threats. However, the loss of wetland habitats due to human activities and climate change may pose a threat in the future.