Nanthar Island, Myanmar is a crucial wintering site for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Critically Endangered). Thanks to the advocacy of BANCA (BirdLife in Myanmar) and local people, the site has now been designated a protected area.
As Spoonie wades along the shore of Nanthar Island in Myanmar, he uses his unique spatula-shaped beak to sift small invertebrates from the mudflats. Luckily for this little Spoonie, he is standing on protected ground, rich in food and safe from the threat of hunting. However, some of his friends aren’t so lucky. With a tiny population of no more than 456, and still in decline, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Critically Endangered) is just one step away from becoming extinct in the wild.
Nanthar Island is not a well-known site for the Spoon-billed sandpiper – but it is nonetheless an important one. Covering a fairly large area of approximately 3,600ha, the island and the nearby Mayyu Estuary in Rakhine state, Myanmar host up to 12% of the global population of Spoon-billed Sandpipers.
In 2008, surveys of the Nanthar area conducted by the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force confirmed this importance. Unfortunately, spoonies that use this habitat as a wintering site are often under threat from hunting by local people. The Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA – BirdLife in Myanmar) has been working hard in the area to protect the unique bird from this pressing concern.
Tackling the problem at its source, BANCA assessed the socio-economic situation of the local people. From this, they were able to determine that most people did not really depend on shorebird hunting for their livelihoods, but instead used them to add variety to their own diets. To combat this problem, BANCA teamed up with local partner Rakhine Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, to conduct education and awareness activities.
5 February 2019