Sonadia Island given International Recognition for Wildlife

Sonadia Island’s importance for wildlife has been given international recognition by BirdLife International, a global conservation organization. Sonadia Island has been declared as 20th Important Bird Area (IBA) of Bangladesh by BirdLife International.

Conservationists say that the island is one of the most important and unique biodiversity hotspots in Bangladesh. It was declared as a national ‘Ecologically Critical Area’ (ECA) by the Government of Bangladesh in 1999. This is the first time that Sonadia Island has been given such international recognition.

A site is recognised as an IBA only if it meets certain criteria, based on the occurrence of key bird species that are at risk of global extinction or whose populations are otherwise irreplaceable.

“A series of recent surveys confirms that Bangladesh is still an extremely important wintering ground for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and we identified Sonadia Island as the main wintering site in Bangladesh” said Sayam U. Chowdhury, Principal Investigator of Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project.

Experts think there are fewer than 400 mature Spoon-billed Sandpipers left in the wild, and nearly 10% of them can be found at Sonadia Island in the winter. They breed in Eastern Russia, and fly over 8,000km to spend their winters on the coast of Bangladesh, Thailand and Myanmar.

Sayam added that “Sonadia Island also supports the globally Endangered Nordmann’sGreenshank, as well as other threatened birds such as Great Knot,Asian Dowitcher, Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit”.

Renowned Bangladesh wildlife expert Dr. Reza Khan said “Sonadia Island is not only important for birds but it is also a vital breeding ground for several species of marine turtles and a heaven for dolphins”

Mike Crosby (Senior Conservation Officer at BirdLife International and expert on Asian birds) added that “recent surveys have shown that Sonadia Island is clearly of great international importance for biodiversity, including the Spoon-billed sandpiper, which is one of Asia’s most threatened birds. It is excellent news that its global significance is now being recognized.”

Dr. Robert Sheldon, Head of International Species Recovery at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)said “Sonadia Island is incredible. During winter, huge flocks of migratory birds gather to feed on the mudflats. It’s spectacular, and even more amazing to think they have flown thousands of kilometers across Asia to get here! Sonadia Island is simply irreplaceable…”

Inamul Haque, Assistant Conservator of Forest (coastal), Cox’s Bazar, said “mangrove coverage of Sonadia is expanding with our recent work which is improving the biodiversity of the area. We have been supporting the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project by avoiding mangrove planting in areas that are important for shorebirds. We have also been protecting the key sites from illegal hunting. I am delighted that Sonadia is receiving the international recognition it deserves by being declared an Important Bird Area. ”

In last December, Bangladesh SBS Conservation Project team has finally launched a year long awareness campaign on Sonadia Island. More than 500 people participated in the first event that included shorebirds photo exhibition, film shows on SBS work in Bangladesh and Russia, folks songs and drama on bird conservation highlighting SBS. See the article 

Contact: [email protected]

SayamU. Chowdhury,
Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project,
Dhaka, Bangladesh

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