2023 Spoon-billed Sandpiper Census in the Gulf of Mottama, Myanmar

Survey team of 2023 Spoon-billed Sandpiper Census in Myanmar in January 2023 © Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force

For the twelfth consecutive year the Nature Conservation Society- Myanmar (NCS) in close collaboration with the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force (SBS TF) organised the Spoon-billed Sandpiper winter survey and waterbird monitoring expedition. The Gulf of Mottama Ramsar Site is a hugely important intertidal mudflat in Myanmar hosting thousand of migratory waterbirds including the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and supporting local people’s livelihoods such as fishery. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force and its local partner have carried out annual shorebird monitoring surveys at the Gulf of Mottama over the last 15 years. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic impact the 2020-2022 surveys were carried out without any international participation.

In 2023 (NCS) organised a total of 20 surveyors from China, Russia, Thailand Germany, US and Myanmar, who were accompanied by 40 local boat crew who have been surveyed the East (Mon State) and West (Bago Region) of the Gulf of Mottama for 5 days between 20-25 January 2023. Local experts were trained to the Local Conservation Group members during the survey period for basic birdwatching, and flock scanning that will help for future citizen science surveys.

Overall preliminary results of the total small wader population in significantly decreased to approximatelyonly 60000  which is one-third less than in previous years. Further analysis is still ongoing, but sadly, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper has also declined and is estimated based on flock count to less than 20 individuals. According to the local fishermen information hunting is now resuming in some places in the Gulf of Mottama area and stronger law enforcement is needed. The survey was generously supported by the Mangrove Conservation Fund Shenzhen (MCF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through the Gulf of Mottama Project and the Manfred-Hermsen Foundation, Germany.


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