However, mtDNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequence analysis (Johnson and Sorenson, 1999) and the biogeographical pattern of distribution indicate that the anatomical similarity to the Muscovy Duck is deceiving. Thus, this species might more appropriately be placed in a monotypic genus, as Asarcornis scutulata, which appears to be unrelated to the Muscovy Duck but closer to the diving ducks.
Historically, the White-winged Wood Duck was widely distributed from north-east India and Bangladesh, through South East Asia to Java and Sumatra. However, in 2002 it had a population of only 800, with about 200 in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, 150 on Sumatra, notably in Way Kambas National Park and 450 in India, Bangladesh and Burma.
Due to ongoing habitat loss, small population size, and because this duck is hunted for eggs, pets and food, the White-winged Duck is evaluated as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.
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