A LWfG in front and a WfG in the rear. Copyright Jari Kostet

Portal to the Lesser White-fronted Goose

- by the Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose project

Eastern Palearctic - East Russia

Breeding area
The breeding distribution of this population is not well known, but thought to extend from east of the Taimyr Peninsula to Chukotka (Morozov & Syroechovski 2002). Almost nothing is known about the distribution and abundance in this area and although the traditional breeding area was considered to be in the Anadyr basin, there have been few direct observations here (Krechmar & Kondratiev 2006). The species is known to be present in the Lena Delta, Kuropatchia and Chuchii Basins, Manilskie Lakes in the lower reaches of the Penzhina River (Syroechovskiy 2006). Relatively high densities have recently been found in the Rauchua River Basin, west of Chaun Bay (167°E, Solovieva & Vartanyan 2011) but it is far from clear how typical these numbers are for the region.

Wintering area
Lesser White-fronted Geese in this flyway winter almost exclusively within the Yangtze River floodplain in China, where they are increasingly concentrated at one site, East Dong Ting Lake (Wang et al. 2012). The species is relative rare in Korea and Japan where very small numbers maybe be regular amongst large flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese.

Flyway population estimate and trends
Whereas it is thought there may have been as many as 65,000 Lesser White-fronted Geese wintering in China in the late 1980s, numbers have declined greatly in Anhui (from maxima of c.5,000 to less than 50) and Jiangxi (c.27,000 to rarely over 1,000) and disappeared from Jiangsu (where formerly up to 12,000 were counted) and Hubei Provinces between the late-1980s/early-1990s and the present (Wang et al. 2012 and data presented here). During 2002-2009, the total counted in the Yangtze River floodplain varied between 8,636 and 17,963, varying with coverage (Wang et al. 2013). In very recent years, the contraction of wintering range has continued, so the species’ winter range is now almost entirely confined to East Dongting Lake in Hunan, with smaller but still regular numbers at Poyang Lake Jiangxi Province (Wang et al. 2012). Relatively stable recent numbers at East Dongting Lake suggest that the population is not currently threatened, but the extreme concentration of the majority of the c. 16,000 individuals in this flyway at one lake makes the population extremely vulnerable, especially as counts in January 2013 and 2014 have been lower than in earlier years (see Table D1.1). Lesser White-fronted Geese rely on very specific meadow vegetation exposed after water recession (Cong et al. 2012, Wang et al. 2013), so changes in water levels or recession timing, due to hydrological changes following the commissioning of the Three Gorges Dam and now as well as in the future from proposals to divert water between catchments, may affect biomass, palatability and plant species composition of the meadows.


The text about the eastern main population is from the unpublished report: A GLOBAL AUDIT OF THE STATUS AND TRENDS OF ARCTIC AND NORTHERN HEMISPHERE GOOSE POPULATIONS - by Anthony D. Fox & James O. Leafloor. The chapter about the eastern main popualtion is written by Lei Cao, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Diana Solovieva, Institute of Biological Problems of the North, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Anthony D. Fox, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University.

Norwegian Ornithological Society www.birdlife.orgWWF Finland

© The Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose project jointly run by BirdLife Norway and WWF Finland. All paintings by © Jari Kostet.