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On World Wildlife Day, protection and preservation of wintering birds and marine life emphasized



Narinjara News, 4 March 2023

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of World Wildlife Day, a United Nations international day to celebrate all the world's wild animals and plants, the Rakhine State biodiversity and nature conservation association called for protecting and preserving the wintering bird species and aquatic animals in Nantha island of Rakhine State.

 

Nantha island is designated as a Marine National Park of Myanmar.

U Yan Naung Soe, the biodiversity conservation association president, observes that disturbing activities like capturing birds and aquatic animals, growing deforestation and unauthorised transportation of sand still continue in Nantha island.

 

He also added that their call was due to lack of actions by the relevant ministry while addressing these issues.

"Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a globally endangered bird species. In 2007, we found 37 of these birds in Nantha island, but their population is dwindled now to 5 only. We demand necessary protection measures so that other birds and marine animals can also be conserved,” he said.

Nantha island, located under Rathedaung township, is situated between the Bay of Bengal and Mayu delta. The island in 10 miles northwest of Sittwe township covers an area of 22,979 acres and it is the largest wintering site for the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the world.

Other migratory and native birds like Great Knot and Nordmann Greenshank along with Arakan dolphins, sea turtles and other aquatic animals are also observed in the locality.

On 21 February 2022, Nantha island was designated as the second Marine National Park by the Myanmar natural resources and environmental protection ministry on 21 May 2020. It was also declared as a Ramsar site for protecting its wetland area.

With this initiative, the environmentalists hoped that conservation efforts would be strengthened, but in reality the concerned department's actions turned out to be weak.

Yan Naung Soe expressed his concern over the gradual extinction of Spoon-billed Sandpiper and other rare species of birds along with marine animals in the island. He cited relentless poaching, capture, and sale of marine animals, including the wintering birds, as the primary causes for the decline in population.

He also noted that Spoon-billed Sandpiper birds frequently visit the gulf of Mottama in Mon State, Mein Ma Hla island in Irrawaddy division, Mergui in Tanintharyi region besides Nantha island.

"In the Mottama area too, their population has been decreasing by every year and if it goes on they may disappear in a decade," he cautioned.

About 50 species of wintering birds arrive in Rakhine State every autumn, but in 2022 only 30 species were observed, as the Rakhine biodiversity and nature conservation association reported.

Fifty years back, there were over 5,000 Spoon-billed Sandpiper birds, but their numbers have declined to 500 individuals in 2011.

The said bird species is native to Siberian plains of Chukotka region in Russia. Their breeding season starts in the months of June and July. With only four eggs laying at a time, only two or three chicks are hatched successfully.

Speaking to Narinjara News, he emphasised on the government initiatives as well as public support for protecting such rare species of birds. He mentioned that the wldlife day, celebrated annually on 3 March as the birthday of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, signed in 1973) helps in creating awareness about the conservation of wildlife and plant species globally.

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