by Shreya Dasgupta on 14 December 2017
Every year, the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper makes a crucial three-month stopover at Tiaozini mudflats in Jiangsu province on China’s eastern coast.
The Jiangsu government, however, has already converted 67.5 square kilometers of Tiaozini’s coastal waters into land and plans to reclaim another 599.5 square kilometers of Tiaozini by 2020.
Conservationists say that virtually all spoon-billed sandpipers that currently use Tiaozini could disappear if the reclamation goes ahead as planned, pushing the species to extinction.
One of the world’s rarest birds — the tiny spoon-billed sandpiper — could soon lose a critical habitat to land reclamation projects, warns a new report by Greenpeace.
Every year, the reddish-brown spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) makes a 5,000-mile long journey, flying from its breeding grounds in Arctic Russia to its wintering sites in places like southern China, Bangladesh and Myanmar. On the way, the bird makes a crucial three-month stopover at Tiaozini mudflats in Jiangsu province on China’s eastern coast.
This is the single most important site for the species, Nigel Clark of the British Trust for Ornithology told Mongabay. The birds rely on the mudflats and wetlands not only for their annual moult — a period when they replace all their wing feathers — but also to refuel and to find refuge. The coastal site is also important for the birds during their journey back to the Russian breeding grounds. Moreover, Tiaozini is a critical habitat for other endangered birds like the Nordmann’s greenshank (Tringa guttifer) and the black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor).
The Tiaozini mudflats, however, could soon be gone.