With this transnational project we are investigating 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 are committed to 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. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper is an important indicator of the state of these coastal ecosystems.
Together with Birds Russia we have established a "Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force". We have succeeded in uniting twelve coastal states from Russia to Bangladesh for the protection of the charismatic Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The objectives are the preservation, restoration and sustainable protection of the Asian coastal regions. We support the political work through our own campaign office in Shanghai as well as with projects to raise awareness among local people (e.g. against bird-catching in Bangladesh and Myanmar).
Survey of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the Southern Gulf of Mottama, Myanmar (photos: EAAFP / C. Zöckler)
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:
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
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Born to fly: The life, journey, and trials of a migratory bird