The white-bellied heron population is extremely small, at fewer than 250 mature individuals, and is rapidly declining, putting this species at severe risk of extinction (2).
The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) began a conservation programme in Bhutan in 2003 to increase the rapidly-declining population of the white-bellied heron (2) (4). In May 2011, the first white-bellied heron chick to be bred in captivity hatched in Bhutan as a result of this project (4). The Government of Bhutan has recognised the riverbed area of Punakha-Wangdue as an important white-bellied heron feeding site, and has designated it as a protected habitat to preserve the species (2).
There are records of sightings of the white-bellied heron in several protected regions of north-eastern India, including the Namdapha Tiger Reserve, where it is believed to breed (2), and the Kaziranga National Park (2) (5). Improved conservation in these areas is planned, including the creation of buffer zones around the borders of the reserve (2).
Little is known about the exact status of the white-bellied heron, so an extensive survey into the extent of its population and range has been proposed. Satellite tagging of individuals has been suggested in order to understand more about its range and migratory patterns, as has conservation awareness education to reduce the human impact on the white-bellied heron and its habitat (2).