Painted Snipe - endangered species listing

This species is now known as Rostratula australis (Gould, 1838)
[NSW Government Gazette No. 113, 25 November 2011, Page 6712]

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Australian subspecies of the Painted Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis australis (Gould 1838) as an ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act, and as a consequence, to omit reference to Rostratula benghalensis (Linnaeus, 1758) from Schedule 2 (Vulnerable species) of the Act. Listing of endangered species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. The Painted Snipe is a medium-sized waterbird of length 24-30 cm and wingspan 50-54 cm. The species inhabits shallow freshwater wetlands, vegetated ephemeral and permanent lakes and swamps, and inundated grasslands. The Painted Snipe roosts during the day in dense vegetation and is active at dusk, throughout the night and dawn. Breeding birds incubate three to six eggs in a shallow scrape nest. The Painted Snipe is currently listed as a Vulnerable Species in New South Wales, and as a Vulnerable Species under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

2. The Painted Snipe has two recognised subspecies, R. b. benghalensis, which occurs in Africa, the Middle East, India, China and South-east Asia and R. b. australis found in Australia. Lane and Rogers (2000) presented evidence that differences between these subspecies warrant recognition of the Australian subspecies as a full species. The Australian subspecies is believed to be endemic to Australia, although there is a single confirmed record from New Zealand in 1986 (Marchant and Higgins 1993).

3. The Painted Snipe has been recorded throughout Australia, however the majority of occurrences and breeding records are from the south-east mainland. The subspecies' movements are largely unpredictable (Rogers 2001), although it may be migratory within Australia, as indicated by winter and summer reporting rates (Blakers et al. 1984).

4. Using comparisons of reporting rates between the 1950s and 1990s, Lane and Rogers (2000) demonstrated a 91% decline in the national reporting rate for Painted Snipe and an 88% decline in reporting rates within NSW. Since 1990, there have been fewer than 50 records of the species in NSW. This decline in reporting rate has occurred despite an increase in targeted survey effort (C. Tzaros, pers. comm.).

5. The decline in reporting rate of the Painted Snipe has probably resulted from the loss and degradation of wetland areas, particularly within the core of its range. The decline in reporting rates of Painted Snipe coincided with major water resource developments in the Murray-Darling Basin between the 1960s and 1990s (Lane and Rogers 2000). Such alteration of river flows for irrigation, and therefore the concurrent threat to Painted Snipe habitat, is ongoing: e.g. flows to the Macquarie Marshes (Kingsford and Thomas 1995). Additional threats to the Painted Snipe include clearing of wetland vegetation and grazing, both of which degrade Painted Snipe habitat, and predation by foxes and cats.

6. In view of the above the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Australian subspecies of the Painted Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis australis (Gould 1838), is likely to become extinct in nature in NSW unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.


Associate Professor Paul Adam


Scientific Committee


Proposed Gazettal date: 25/06/04

Exhibition period: 25/06/04 - 06/08/04


Blakers M, Davies SJJF, Reilly PN (1984) 'The Atlas of Australian Birds.' (Melbourne University Press: Carlton, Victoria).

Kingsford RT, Thomas RF (1995). The Macquarie Marshes in arid Australia and their waterbirds: a 50-year history of decline. Environmental Management 19, 867-878.

Lane BA, Rogers DI (2000) The Australian Painted Snipe Rostratula (benghalensis) australis: an endangered species? Stilt 36, 26-34.

Marchant S, Higgins PJ (eds) (1993) 'Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds: Volume 2 Raptors to Lapwings.' Pp 658-666. (Oxford University Press: Melbourne).

Rogers DI (2001) Conservation directions: Painted Snipe. Wingspan 11, 5-6.


About the NSW Scientific Committee


Page last updated: 29 August 2014