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Asian coastal zones

Can the Spoon-billed Sandpiper be saved from Extinction?

With this transnational project we would like to identify the causes of the drastic decline in the population of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus), which breeds in Siberia and migrates as far as India, and to support its survival. 


This charismatic wading bird with its spoon-shaped beak is on the verge of extinction and in 2008 BirdLife International classified it as globally "threatened with extinction" in the Red List. The population has shrunk by a good 80% since the 1970s to an estimated 200-300 pairs today.

Since 2000 Dr. Christoph Zöckler, pioneering expert of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and employee of our foundation since 2004, is documenting the dramatic decline of breeding pairs in Siberia. All signs indicate that the rapid changes and developments along the coasts of China, Korea and Japan have significantly contributed to the decline of this species and other waders. Many of the potential threads still have to be identified.  Further research is needed, especially on the migration route and wintering area, which will be conducted swiftly  through the commitment of the foundation, amongst others. At the same time, we are already helping to initiate first protective measures in Myanmar and more recently in China.

Survey of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the Southern Gulf of Mottama, Myanmar (photos: EAAFP / C. Zöckler)

An Action Aid programme which we coordinate together with our Russian partner Birds Russia includes the protection measures of all 12 neighbouring countries. The overall objective is to conserve andwhere possible restore Asian coastal regions for the sustainable protection of many bird species that depend on these habitats. The Spoon Sandpiper is an important indicator of the state of these coastal ecosystems, and is also a charismatic species that is now leading to cross-border conservation work. 


In addition to small local protection activities by sensitizing the population against bird-catching (Bangladesh, Myanmar) and environmental education in schools (China), we have started a campaign with our own office in Shanghai against the planned embankment of one of the largest and most species-rich tidal flats discovered on the migration route of the Spoon-billed sandpiper. This led to a great success:

Juli 2018: Success in China - Important protection goal achieved for the extremely endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Follow-up activities

In Myanmar we found the most valuable coastal wetlands and the Ayeyarwady River by way of the discovered main wintering area of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Myanmar. For these species-rich ecosystems, long-term conservation concepts have to be developed and politically implemented, which we considered  feasible with the regime change in 2011. Since then, our foundation has been active in various projects and with various partners in Myanmar.

Our project activities and cooperations in detail

2004-2007: The search for the wintering area

International Cooperation

Further information

Newsbulletin of the "Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force"
October 2019 [4,8 MB]
Mai 2019 [8,66 MB]
November 2018 [6 MB]
März 2018 [4,9 MB]
April 2017 [4,76 MB] 
Oktober 2016 [1,61 MB]
April 2016 [1,55 MB]