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Alarming figures on coastal waterbirds in Southeast Asia

05-Sep-2007

Wetlands International presents today its publication about South-east Asian shorebirds, based on years of field monitoring in Malaysia. Shorebird numbers showed an overall decline of 22% in Malaysia between 1983–1986 and 2004–2006. The reclamation and conversion of mangrove forest and mudflats for aquaculture, agriculture, industry, housing and recreational purposes has been identified as the major threat to waterbird areas. 

In the season that migratory waterbirds start return to the shore of southeast Asia after another breeding season in Siberia, northeast China and Japan, Wetlands International pleased to present the latest status of waterbirds in Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.

The surveys confirmed the Peninsular Malaysian coast as one of the most important wintering grounds for the Endangered Nordmann’s Greenshank, supports up to 25% (1%=8) of the most rare shorebird species along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The surveys also confirmed the significance of the east Malaysian coast for the wintering Vulnerable Chinese Egret, with up to 33% (1%=30) using of the east Malaysian coast for wintering.

However, shorebird numbers showed an overall decline of 22% in Malaysia between 1983–1986 and 2004–2006. The most significant decline (86%) occurred on the Perak coast, while the west coast of Johor and the coast of Selangor showed a 40% and 26% decline, respectively. The reclamation and conversion of mangrove forest and mudflats for aquaculture, agriculture, industry, housing and recreational purposes has been identified as the major threat to waterbird habitat.

The entire Inner Gulf of Thailand is at risk from urbanisation and non-zoned development for industry and housing. Further threats include the construction of sea walls, coastal erosion and the unregulated planting of mangroves on mudflats. A further threat is now posed by the conversion of traditional prawn ponds and salt pans to deep, steep-sided ponds for rearing crabs and prawns combined. In other areas, hunting waterbirds is now becoming a real threat.

Wetlands International calls the government agencies in these countries to protect the internationally important sites identified in the study to prevent the further decline of the migratory waterbirds in the region.

The latest Wetlands International publication entitled “The Status of Coastal Waterbirds and Wetlands in Southeast Asia: Results of Waterbird Surveys in Malaysia (2004–2006) and Thailand and Myanmar (2006)” presents a comprehensive update of the status of waterbird populations and wetlands along the coasts of Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar based on surveys undertaken between 2004 and 2006. The surveys in Malaysia were jointed conducted by Malaysian Nature Society, Sarawak Forest Corporation and Wetlands International –Malaysia Office. The surveys in Thailand and Myanmar was carried out by Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and Myanmar Bird and Nature Society, respectively. The field work was mostly done by volunteers in these countries.

A total of 134 wetland sites were covered in Malaysia, including 15 sites on the southwest coast of Sarawak – the first comprehensive update of the status of waterbird populations and wetlands on this coast since 1985. Peak counts for all sites between 2004 and 2006 recorded over 105,000 waterbirds. Selangor and Sarawak were the most important states, with more than 30,000 waterbirds recorded along the coasts of both states. A total of 16 sites meet the criterion for international importance (>1% of the population), and a further 39 sites are potentially of international importance in having recorded large numbers of unidentified waterbirds or at least one globally threatened species.

Sixteen sites surveyed in Central and Southern Thailand recorded a total of over 76,000 waterbirds in January 2006.  A total of three sites of the 16 surveyed in January 2006 met the 1% criterion for international importance, and seven sites were identified as being potentially of international importance.

The critically important Inner Gulf of Thailand wetlands, recorded over 52,000 waterbirds with a total of 10 species recorded in internationally important concentrations (>1% population). Globally threatened species recorded in the area including the Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill, Nordmann’s Greenshank (up to 9% of the population) and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Eleven sites in the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) Delta and mouth of the Yangon River in Myanmar recorded a total of over 38,000 waterbirds in December 2005 – March 2006. This represents the first comprehensive ornithological survey of the Ayeyarwaddy Delta. A total of 8 species recorded in internationally important concentrations including more than 3% of the Endangered  Nordmann's Greenshank. Four of the total 11 sites surveyed met the 1% criterion for sites of international importance (more than 1 % of the population relies on the site). Hunting and catching waterbirds by using of mist-net were identified as the major threats to the waterbirds in this area.


For more information, contact:
David Li
Waterbird Conservation Officer
Wetlands International
email:  david@wetlands.org.my

or Alex Kaat
Global Communications Manager
+31 (0)6 5060 1917
alex.kaat@wetlands.org



Click here for the publication.





 

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