Twenty years ago, few conservationists knew about the Gulf of Mottama and the secrets hidden within its complex coastline. Its location in southern Myanmar is, like many parts of the country, rugged and difficult to access. However, in the early 2010s, everything changed when surveys lead by BANCA (BirdLife in Myanmar) and international experts from the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force revealed more than 200 Spoon-billed Sandpipers Calidris pygmaea overwintering there – fifty percent of the world’s population. This makes the Gulf of Mottama the region’s single most important site for the Critically Endangered wader.
Alongside the affectionately-titled “Spoonie”, the Gulf boasts some of the largest congregations of shorebirds in Southeast Asia, with over 90,000 birds overwintering here annually. These include significant numbers of imperilled species such as the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata and Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica (both Near Threatened), and the Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris (Endangered).
Ding Li Yong