The look-alike dilemma

One of the biggest challenges in the conservation of the species is that during migration, the Lesser White-fronts (Anser erythropus) are mixing with White-fronted Geese (A. albifrons) which is an important quarry species in most countries within the range of the Lesser White-fronts.

Separating the Lesser White-front and the White-front – even with the “clearly distinguishable” adult plumage – is very difficult even for experienced ornithologists.

In a hunting situation, it is practically impossible and therefore the only effective way to protect the Lesser White-fronts from hunting at the few and limited key sites, is to ban hunting of all white-fronted geese in the periods when Lesser White-fronts are present.

The biggest differences between the two species (in adult plumage) are:

  • the neck of the Lesser is shorter and darker brown
  • the head of the Lesser is more box shaped and a uniform dark brown
  • the bill of the Lesser is stubby, almost as long as its height at the base, and intensively pink
  • the white front blaze of the Lesser reaches higher up to the crown
  • the Lesser White-front always has a bright yellow eye ring; the ring is however not visible at long distances, and  the White-front can also, although rarely, have a yellow eye ring