Myanmar marks Migratory Bird Day

world-migratory-bird-day Photo: Supplied

12 MAY 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times - Birds are a valuable part of our ecosystems. They forage for insects and fish, pollinate flowers and fertilise the soil. Some need protecting from extinction, when their habitats change or come under threat.

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an international day that draws attention to migratory birds around the world. This year WMBD was held on May 9. Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the event was celebrated online, and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

The theme of World Migratory Bird Day this year is "Birds Connect Our World", to highlight the importance of conserving and restoring the connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the natural movements of migratory birds. These ecosystems are varied and, given the vast distances that migratory birds travel each year, occupy different geographical local around the world.

The East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) was formed in 2006, and seeks to conserve migratory water birds and their habitats in Australia and East Asia. Now, partners from 18 countries joined the Partnership comprising governmental organisations, NGOs/INGOs and international businesses. Myanmar became a member EAAFP in 2014, and has already designated six Flyway Network Sites for migratory birds.

Photo: Shin Moe Myint/The Myanmar Times

Of the millions of birds that live in Myanmar, at least 178 species use this migration path every year. In fact, the EAAFP is used by more waterbird species, and more globally threatened or near threatened species, than any of the world's other flyways. Such species include the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchuspygmeus) and the Chinese Crested Tern [Sterna bernsteini], both of which are critically endangered.

Out of nine flyways, there are three flyways across Asia –the West Pacific Flyway, East-Asian Australasian Flyway and West Asian Flyway. Among them, the Central Asian Flyway and East-Asian Australasian Flyway pass through Myanmar.

Birds tend to migrate for breeding and feeding. They need regular flyways, and danger-free stop-over points. Throughout the world there are nine different flyway routes used by migratory birds. To maintain and preserve these flyway routs, it is essential that countries with migratory birds participate in treaties and conservation programs.

In Myanmar, there are six flyway network sites for migratory birds:1) EAAF #117 in the Gulf of Mottama; 2) EAAF #118, the Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary; 3) EAAF#119 at the Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary; 4) EAAF #139, at Nanthar Island and Mayyu Estuaries; 5) EAAF #140 in the Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary; and 6) EAAF #147 is the Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. 

A man on a boat seen at the Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo: Thiri Lu/The Myanmar Times

 There are over 1,116 bird species native to Myanmar, and about 200 of them are migratory birds. Geese, waders, shorebirds and tern are migratory birds.

Among these, there are a number of rare species. In the Gulf of Mottama, for instance, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchuspygmeus) travels to the Myanmar waters during the cool months to search for food. There are around 500 of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in existence. It is important to maintain their population, as over half of the population of Spoon-billed Sandpipers come to the Gulf of Mottama.

In Myanmar, the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association(BANCA) celebrated this year's WMBD online, sharing knowledge about migratory birds via chat and videos posted on social media.

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