Avifauna Conservation

Applying the IUCN Redlist criteria there are 46 Globally Threatened bird species found in Myanmar.  Eight of these species are Critically Endangered, twelve Endangered and twenty-six are Vulnerable species. 

In addition, the country holds six endemic species. These include Jerdon’s Minivet Pericrocotus albifrons, Hooded Treepie Crypsirina cucullata, Burmese Bushlark Mirafra microptera, Burmese Tit Aegithalos sharpie, White-throated Babbler Turdoides gularis and White-browed Nuthatch Sitta victoriae.

During WCS conducting bird surveys across Myanmar, 4 new bird species were recorded for South-East Asia. These are Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus, Red-fronted Rosefinch Carpodacus puniceus, Brandt's Mountain Finch Leucosticte brandti, and Smoky Warbler Phylloscopus fuligiventer. These species were all recorded in the mountains of the far north of the country. Surveys have also recorded six new bird species for Myanmar which are White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea, Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii, Pied Falconet Microhierax melanoleucus, Brambling Fringilla montifringilla, Rufous-bellied Swallow Cecropis badia and Spectacled Spiderhunter Arachnothera flavigaster.

WCS implements conservation projects that focus on a number of globally threatened species. These include:

A White-bellied heron. Photo (c) Thet Zaw Naing/WCS

The White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis is listed as a Critically Endangered and near-endemic to Myanmar. And this species is totally protected under the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Area Law in Myanmar. Formerly this species occurred in Rakhine State (South-West Myanmar), northern Chin State (West Myanmar), Mandalay Region (Central Myanmar), Bago Region (South Myanmar), and Kachin State (North Myanmar). There are very few historical records of White-bellied Heron in Myanmar.  From 2009 to 2011, the bird survey team of WCS conducted surveys of White-bellied Heron in Kachin State and Sagaing Region in North Myanmar where the team especially surveyed habitat that appeared suitable for this species.  During the surveys, this species was recorded in the Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary, Naungmung area  and on the Mali Hka River at Machanbaw. Of these recorded sites, Naungmung and Mali Hka River were new sites for this species, and Hukaung and Phonkanrazi were historically known sites. The species was also recorded on Shweli River in East Myanmar in 2012. This is also a new site for this species. The results of the surveys indicate that human disturbance and loss of habitat are significant threats to this species in Myanmar. WCS will continue surveys to clarify its distribution and status at all old historically recorded sites and the all habitat that appears suitable for this species in Myanmar. WCS is also an active participant in the White-bellied Heron IUCN SSC White-bellied Heron Working Group. For more information: www.whitebelliedheron.org



A White-rumped vulture. Photo (c) Thet Zaw Naing/WCS

White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis is listed as a Critically Endangered species and is totally protected under the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Area Law in Myanmar. This species was once abundant in Myanmar, South-East Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Vultures have declined from many parts of their former range owing to food shortages, loss of habitat and poisoning from Diclofenec and other chemicals. In Myanmar context, the use of Diclofenec has not been a threat yet but nest destruction, hunting, poisoning of cattle and potentially disease are the prevailing threats to vulture populations.  On March 9th 2011, a team of biologists from the Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division of the Myanmar Forest Department and the WCS discovered a breeding colony of White-rumped Vulture in the Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, North Myanmar. The nesting site is located close to the village of Dunban along the Ledo Road on the southern edge of the sanctuary. The last record of breeding White-rumped Vultures in Myanmar was in 1932 (Stanford and Ticehurst 1935). A total of 10 nests were found in 10 separate trees. All birds fledged and left their nest with their parents in June. This is the first confirmed breeding success in Myanmar since 1933. In 2012 and 2013, the WCS team including community rangers from Donban and neighboring communities monitored the vultures and their nests. All nests were successfully breeding each year.  Future surveys will be conducted to search for additional nesting areas for this species and the Critically Endangered Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris, a few of which still occur in the area.

 

A Black-bellied Tern captured in Chindwin. Photo (c) Thet Zaw Naing/WCS

The Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda is listed as an Endangered species and this species is totally protected under the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Area Law in Myanmar. This species was previously abundant in Myanmar. Since 2004, numerous bird surveys were conducted at wetlands sites, and many sites failed to record this species. 43 individuals of this species were recorded along the Chindwin River between Monywar and Hkamti in January 2004 but it was not found in a 2012 survey of the same area.  It is recently recorded only in Indawgyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary in 2013 and on Irrawaddy River in the Htigiant section in 2013 and 2015. The surveys indicate that human settlement and habitats disturbance are significant threats to this species in Myanmar.  Cattle grazing in their sandbank nesting habitat are also a threat to this species. In the near future, WCS will conduct more extensive surveys to clarify the recent distribution and status in Myanmar.

Plain-pouched Hornbill Aceros subruficollis is listed as a Vulnerable species and near-endemic to Myanmar. This species is totally protected under the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Area Law in Myanmar. The species was previously found in Bago Region, Mon State, Kayin State and Taninthayi Region in Myanmar. From February 2014 to July 2015, WCS conducted bird surveys across Taninthayi Region where this species was recorded at five sites. Significantly large number of individuals of this species were recorded, including 398 birds in the Nga Wun Reserved Forest and 123 birds in Lampi Marine National Park.  Only a few recent bird surveys have been codnucted in forested areas of Bago, Mon and Kayin where this species may still occur. The results of the surveys indicate that habitat lose is a significant threat to this species in Myanmar. WCS is continuing surveys to clarify its distribution and status in Tanintharyi. WCS is also seeking opportunities for bird surveys in Bago, Mon and Kayin to fill the information gaps for this species. 

 

A Jerdon's Babbler. Photo (c) Robert Tizard/WCS

The Vulnerable Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre was discovered by WCS at Uto Farm in Yangon Region in May 2014.  The last recorded of it in Myanmar was in July 1941, in the Bago Region. In the late nineteenth century, this species occurred in Bago, Mandalay, Magwe Regions and Kachin State.  The results of the surveys indicate that the losses of grassland habitats are a significant threat to this species in Myanmar. More surveys are urgently needed to clarify the distribution and status of this species across grasslands in Myanmar to protect this species from disappearing again.

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