Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) is the largest migratory shorebird in the world. It has a greyish brown and buff streaked body and a long, down-curved bill that makes it easy for the birds to feed on crabs and invertebrates in the mud.

Key threats

As mentioned above, intertidal habitat loss (in some areas estimated at 50% or more) caused mostly by reclamation projects at the Yellow Sea staging grounds is a fatal threat to the species. Wetland degradation caused by environmental pollution, reduced river flows and invasive plants are threatening throughout the flyway (Garnett et al., 2011). Similarly, disturbance and hunting are threats throughout the whole range including breeding, non-breeding and stopover sites (Barter et al. 1997). Human disturbance can interrupt shorebirds’ feeding or roosting and may influence the area of otherwise suitable feeding habitat that is actually used. Far Eastern Curlews take flight when humans are 30–100 metres, or even up to 250 meters away (Peter, 1990).

What can we do?

Far Eastern Curlew populations have been monitored every year for the last 30 years at over 20 locations around Australia, organised by the Australasian Wader Studies Group. This program continues through Shorebirds 2020, Australia’s national shorebird monitoring programme, which is coordinated by BirdLife Australia.
As Far Eastern Curlew migrates along the flyway, conserving the species cannot be done solely by one country or organization. Governments and the organization related with EAAF should cooperate to preserve the species. Identifying key stopover areas and preventing their reclamation, monitoring population trends, restoring reclaimed wetland sites, and campaigning to stop shorebird hunting in Asian countries are general actions that can be taken.
The conservation priorities of CMS include protection from further land reclamation, and other threats, and managing appropriately as much as possible of the remaining habitat at Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve, Liaoning, China, and at the Yellow River (Huang He) delta, ensuring effective management of shellfish fisheries and polychaetes harvesting at key sites for the benefit of all shorebirds, limitation/stop of hunting at key sites along the migration route (poisoned crabs are put out on tidal flats in China for all curlew species).

At the EAAFP MOP8, a Far Eastern Curlew Task Force was formed to coordinate the development of a Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of Far Eastern Curlew. All Partners unanimously endorsed the Task Force which is Chaired by Australia. It is anticipated that this plan will be endorsed at MOP9 in Singapore, 2017.