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The historical and current status of Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar

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Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea is a Critically Endangered species that has not been confirmed in the wild since 1948–1949. Historical records of the species are concentrated in India, although there are also a few from Myanmar. Between 2003 and 2005, BirdLife International and the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) conducted a series of field surveys of wetland habitats in the lowlands of Kachin state, an area with a cluster of historical records of the species. These were the first targeted efforts to assess the status of the species in Myanmar. These surveys were complemented by reviews of museum specimens and literature relating to the species in Myanmar. Two specimen records represent very strong evidence that the species occurred in Myanmar historically, although they shed little light on its seasonal status in the country. The surveys conducted by BirdLife International and BANCA were unable to confirm the continued occurrence of Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar. However, they did generate a limited amount of equivocal direct evidence, most notably two possible but unconfirmed sightings. There are several reasons for believing that the species may still persist in the lowlands of Kachin state and, perhaps, elsewhere in Myanmar. Shyness, combined with rarity, possible nocturnal habits and the impenetrability of its habitats, means that the species tended to be under-recorded historically, and may continue to be so currently. Further surveys are required to confirm this.
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The historical and current status of Pink-headed
Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar
ANDREW W. TORDOFF, TIM APPLETON, JONATHAN C. EAMES, KARIN
EBERHARDT, HTIN HLA, KHIN MA MA THWIN, SAO MYO ZAW, SAW MOSES
and SE IN MY O A UN G
Summary
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea is a Critically Endangered species that has not
been confirmed in the wild since 1948–1949. Historical records of the species are concentrated in
India, although there are also a few from Myanmar. Between 2003 and 2005, BirdLife
International and the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) conducted a
series of field surveys of wetland habitats in the lowlands of Kachin state, an area with a cluster
of historical records of the species. These were the first targeted efforts to assess the status of the
species in Myanmar. These surveys were complemented by reviews of museum specimens and
literature relating to the species in Myanmar. Two specimen records represent very strong
evidence that the species occurred in Myanmar historically, although they shed little light on its
seasonal status in the country. The surveys conducted by BirdLife International and BANCA
were unable to confirm the continued occurrence of Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar. However,
they did generate a limited amount of equivocal direct evidence, most notably two possible but
unconfirmed sightings. There are several reasons for believing that the species may still persist
in the lowlands of Kachin state and, perhaps, elsewhere in Myanmar. Shyness, combined with
rarity, possible nocturnal habits and the impenetrability of its habitats, means that the species
tended to be under-recorded historically, and may continue to be so currently. Further surveys
are required to confirm this.
Introduction
In its review of globally threatened bird species in Asia, Saving Asia’s Threatened Birds, BirdLife
International (2003) presents a table of ‘‘Asia’s lost species: Critical and Endangered bird species
not recorded in recent decades’’. The 11 species in this table include Pink-headed Duck
Rhodonessa caryophyllacea, a Critically Endangered species (IUCN 2006), which has no captive
population and has not been confirmed in the wild since 1948–1949 (Singh 1967, BirdLife
International 2001).
Historical records of Pink-headed Duck are concentrated in India, with a much smaller number
from Myanmar, and a handful from Bangladesh and Nepal (BirdLife International 2001). Within
India, records are concentrated in the north and north-east of the country, with much smaller
numbers from the Punjab and southern India. This distribution of records may indicate that the
species was previously more widespread and common throughout Indiabut was already undergoing
a decline prior to the arrival of European collectors, that it bred in northern and north-eastern India
and occurred outside these areas as a non-breeding visitor, or a combination of these factors.
Whether or not Pink-headed Duck was already declining before it was described for science, it
appears to have undergone a rapid decline during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth
centuries, as a result of habitat loss, perhaps compounded by hunting pressure. A major factor in
Bird Conservation International (2008) 18:38–52. ßBirdLife International 2008
doi: 10.1017/S0959270908000063 Printed in the United Kingdom
the decline and possible extinction of the species in South Asia was the phenomenal growth and
expansion of the human population in its range over this period, and the accompanying massive
conversion of lowland wetlands to cultivation (Bucknill 1924, Ali 1960, BirdLife International
2001). Based on a comprehensive review of information on the status of the species, BirdLife
International (2001) concluded that the ‘‘duck is probably extinct, but until the last known areas
of its former range are surveyed, this cannot be confirmed’’.
One area of its former range that had, until the late 1990s, received little recent ornithological
survey effort is Myanmar (Burma). The few historical records of Pink-headed Duck from the
country are concentrated in the lowlands of Kachin state and Mandalay division (Figures 1 and 2).
Figure 1. Map of Myanmar, showing selected localities mentioned in the text.
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar 39
Prior to 2003, however, there had been no specific attempt to assess the current status of the species
in these areas, although they were visited during several general waterbird surveys (van der Ven
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, Davies et al. 2004). In this context, BirdLife International and the
Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) conducted a series of field surveys
between 2003 and 2005, focusing on wetland habitats in the lowlands of Kachin state, paying
particular attention to assessing the current status of Pink-headed Duck (Tordoff et al. in press).
The first BirdLife/BANCA survey, which took place between 11 and 17 April 2003, focused on
the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) river between Myitkyina and Bhamo towns, and nearby non-
flowing wetlands. The second survey, between 11 and 26 November 2003, focused on the Tanai
river and associated ox-bow lakes. The third survey, between 28 November and 15 December
2004, revisited the Tanai river and associated ox-bows, and also included Indawgyi lake and river
and the nearby Nawng Kwin wetland. The fourth survey, from 10 October to 3 November 2005,
concentrated on the Kamaing area, the Mogaung Chaung (Mogaung river) and the Warazup
area of Hukaung Tiger Reserve.
At each site visited, satellite images (of various sources and dates) were used to identify
potentially suitable habitats for Pink-headed Duck, where survey effort was then concentrated.
Particular attention was given to surveying ox-bows associated with lowland rivers, and natural
Figure 2. Map of Kachin State, Myanmar, showing selected localities mentioned in the text. 1,
Machanbaw; 2, Tanai river; 3, Nat Kaung river; 4, Kamaing town; 5, Mogaung Chaung; 6,
Indawgyi lake; 7, Nawng Kwin; 8, Indawgyi river; 9, Myitkyina; 10, Talawgyi; 11, Bhamo.
A. W. Tordoff et al. 40
grasslands containing pools. At each site visited, birds seen and heard were recorded by between
two and seven observers, and local people were interviewed.
Before the 2005 survey, colour posters and flyers were distributed throughout the lowlands of
Kachin state, offering a cash reward to any person who was able to show a live Pink-headed Duck
to the survey team. The posters displayed colour pictures of Pink-headed Duck and two possible
confusion species: Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea and Red-crested Pochard Rhodonessa
rufina.
In addition to conducting field surveys, the authors carried out a thorough review of
specimens and literature relating to Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar. Based on these studies, this
paper reviews historical and recent records of Pink-headed Duck from Myanmar, and evaluates
the historical and current status of the species in the country.
Historical status in Myanmar
Six historical (pre-1950) records and one fairly recent (1950–1979) record of Pink-headed Duck
in Myanmar are listed by BirdLife International (2001). Each record is discussed below.
Bhamo
Pink-headed Duck is described as occurring at Bhamo (in present-day Kachin state) by Blyth
(1875), but no further details are given. This record is repeated by a number of authors,
including Oates (1883) and Smythies (1986). It may also be the source of the comment in Oates
and Blandford (1889–1898) that Pink-headed Duck ‘‘has been recorded from north of Bha´mo,
but nowhere else in the Irrawaddy valley’’. The Bhamo area was the focus of a moderate amount
of ornithological surveyeffort in the early part of the twentieth century, most notably by Harington
(1909–1910), but no further records of the species were made. There are a large number of ox-bows
near to Bhamo town (24u159150N, 97u139300E; 110 m a.s.l.; Figure 2). Whilethese ox-bows currently
show signs of significant human disturbance, they could have supported the species historically,
when levels of human disturbance were presumably far lower than at present.
Arakan
Blyth (1875) also describes Pink-headed Duck as occurring in Arakan (present-day Rakhine
state; Figure 1), but no further details are given. This record is repeated by a number of authors,
including Oates (1883) and Smythies (1986). Present-day Rakhine state was the focus of only
modest historical survey effort (e.g. Christison et al. 1946) and has received almost no recent
ornithological study. In this context, the absence of subsequent records from the area should not
necessarily be interpreted as indicating that the species no longer occurs (or never occurred) there.
Myitkyina
Harington (1909) includes the species in a table of the ‘‘Distribution of Birds in Burma’’ with the
note ‘‘Myitkyina, rare in Burma’’. No further details are given. Myitkyina town (25u239000N,
97u249000E; 145 m a.s.l.; Figure 2) lies on the Ayeyarwady river, 125 km north of Bhamo. Pink-
headed Duck appears never to have utilized rivers, although it did occur in areas flooded by them
(BirdLife International 2001).
Koolay
On 25 December 1908, Jardine (1909) shot a female Pink-headed Duck at Koolay, near Singu, in
present-day Mandalay division. The skin is in the collection of the Bombay Natural History
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar 41
Society (BNHS) (Figure 3). The location on the specimen label is given as ‘‘Singu, Koolay, Upper
Burma’’, while the date is given as 27 January 1909. The discrepancy between the date of
collection given by Jardine (1909) and the date on the specimen label may be due to the latter
date being when the specimen was entered into the collection of BNHS. The locality ‘‘Koolay’’
may correspond to the present-day village of Kule (22u349450N, 95u589450E; 60 m a.s.l.), which
lies 3 km north of Singu town on the shore of Khu Le In, a medium-sized (c. 200 ha) lake near
the Ayeyarwady river.
Mandalay bazaar
The second specimen from Myanmar is a male acquired from Mandalay bazaar in February 1910
and held at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) (Figure 4). The label of this
specimen bears the following information: ‘‘=, Mandalay bazaar, 10.02.10, H. H. Harington’’.
This represents the last confirmed record of the species from Myanmar. Mandalay (21u589300N,
96u059000E; 80 m a.s.l.) is c. 60 km south of Singu town.
Figure 4. Skin of a male Pink-headed Duck in the collection of AMNH. The specimen was
collected acquired from Mandalay bazaar on 10 February 1910. (Photograph courtesy of
AMNH.)
Figure 3. Skin of a female Pink-headed Duck in the collection of BNHS. The specimen was
collected at Koolay, near Singu, in present-day Mandalay division, on 25 December 1908.
(Photograph courtesy of BNHS.)
A. W. Tordoff et al. 42
Mandalay
In his note on the occurrence of Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar, Jardine (1909) comments that
‘‘Oates mentions 4 of these duck as being shot near Mandalay’’, without giving a date. It is
notable that this report is from the same general area as the two specimen records.
Mali Kha
Kear and Williams (1978) passed on a report by U Tun Yin of five birds in rapids on the Mali
Kha river (a tributary of the Ayeyarwady river), near Machanbaw, Kachin state (Figure 2), in
1965–1966. A letter from U Tun Yin to W. King of the International Council for Bird
Preservation, dated 2 November 1979, reveals that original source of this report was Saw
Cushing Po, a local government official in Putao district, Kachin state. According to this letter,
Saw Cushing Po ‘‘was out shooting … in the winter of 1967–1968’’ when he ‘‘saw a small flock
of some 4–6 Pink-headed Ducks in the rapids of Mali Kha’’. The letter goes on to state that Saw
Cushing Po ‘‘continued to receive reports of the sighting of small flocks of Pink-headed Duck
from trustworthy friends’’, although ‘‘the Pink-headed Duck do not, however, breed in the
Putao district’’. The letter is accompanied by a map, which shows the location where the
purported sighting of Pink-headed Duck was made. The location of the reported sighting
(27u199000N, 97u349450E, c. 600 m a.s.l.) appears, from remote sensing data, to lie along a low-
gradient section of the Mali Kha, approximately 150 m wide, with a few large sandbars. This
record fails to conform with almost all evidence to date that the species was restricted to lowlands
and never used rivers (BirdLife International 2001), and should be treated as provisional.
Seasonal status
The specimen records from Koolay and Mandalay bazaar represent very strong evidence that
Pink-headed Duck occurred in Myanmar historically. However, there remains uncertainty about
the species’ seasonal status, as it is possible that it was a winter visitor to Myanmar not a
resident. The historical records from Myanmar shed little light on its seasonal status, because
only three of them are dated. Besides, although the specimen acquired from Mandalay bazaar is
dated as February, it is not known when the bird was originally hunted (or captured). Moreover,
although the anecdotal report from along the Mali Kha is dated as winter 1967–1968, there are
strong reasons to doubt that this report refers to Pink-headed Duck. Consequently, the only
reliable information on seasonal status in Myanmar is the specimen shot by Jardine (1909) on 25
December 1908. This record is consistent with both the species being a winter visitor to
Myanmar and it being a resident.
Current status in Myanmar
BirdLife International (2001) presents a single recent (1980–2001) anecdotal report of Pink-
headed Duck from Myanmar. The BirdLife/BANCA surveys were unable to confirm the
continued occurrence of Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar, although they did generate several
first-hand anecdotal reports and two unconfirmed sightings. Each record is discussed below.
Talawgyi
BirdLife International (2001) cites an observation by U Tun Yin (per U Nay Myo Shwe per S.
Chan) of two birds resembling illustrations of Pink-headed Duck and never previously seen by
the observer. The birds were seen near Talawgyi village (25u049300N, 97u189300E, 140 m a.s.l.;
Figure 2), not far from Myitkyina, in winter 1998/1999. During the preparation of this paper, U
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar 43
Nay Myo Shwe informed the authors that he had never met anyone at Talawgyi who had
reported the species and that in fact he had never conducted interviews for the species there.
Consequently, the report in BirdLife International (2001) should be treated as erroneous.
During the BirdLife/BANCA surveys in April 2003 and October–November 2005, an
anecdotal report of Pink-headed Duck near Talawgyi was received from an ex-hunter, Dr La Kha.
He reported that, in 1993, he visited a small lake, about 200 m wide, on the east bank of the
Ayeyarwady river, a short distance downstream of Talawgyi. He claimed to have seen three
Pink-headed Ducks on this lake but to have left them undisturbed, not having had his gun with
him at the time. He added that this lake is now drained every February to catch fish, so he did
not expect that it would still be suitable for Pink-headed Duck.
Talawgyi village lies alongside the Ayeyarwady river, c. 65 km downstream of Myitkyina
town. Within a 10 km radius of Talawgyi village, there are over 30 ox-bows, formed by the
Ayeyarwady and its tributaries. The moderately high levels of human disturbance observed in
April 2003 suggest that the area may now be less suitable for the species than certain other sites
visited during the BirdLife/BANCA surveys.
Tanai River
On 22 November 2003, Pasi Naw Aung, a hunter from Tanai town, reported that, more than
three years previously, he saw four Pink-headed Ducks on Se Hnaung In (26u249450N,
96u319450E), one of which he killed at night. He added that the habitat of the species is grass and
shallow water near trees. Later the same day, Win Bo, a fisherman, reported to the survey team
that he saw a single Pink-headed Duck on Se Hnaung in September or October 2003. He added
that he saw the bird just after dawn, both on the water and in flight.
Se Hnaung In lies along the Tanai river (Figure 2), a tributary of the Chindwin river, which
flows through Hukaung Tiger Reserve. The meandering Tanai river has generated a large
number of ox-bows, some of which support large expanses of emergent and/or floating
vegetation, while others have predominantly open water. A total of 13 ox-bows were visited
during the BirdLife/BANCA surveys in November 2003 and November–December 2004. Of
these ox-bows, Se Hnaung In appeared to be particularly suitable for Pink-headed Duck, with a
large belt of emergent reeds along the northern side and an extensive area (c. 10 ha) at the
western end. Unfortunately, the reeds could not be penetrated by boat, and vantage points along
the shore of the ox-bow only permitted views of open water. Consequently, it was not possible to
determine whether the reeds contained small pools that might have been suitable for Pink-
headed Duck.
Nawng Kwin
Between 1 and 5 December 2004, the survey team visited Nawng Kwin (25u209300N, 96u229000E;
c. 200 m a.s.l.; Figure 2), a medium-sized (c. 1,500 ha) wetland to the north of Indawgyi lake
(Figure 2). Nawng Kwin is a seasonally inundated grassland, with some swamp forest and a few
scattered, open pools, up to 200 m in diameter (Figure 5). On 1 December, a young man, Saw
Aung, who reported knowing Pink-headed Duck, was asked to flush birds from pools in the
grassland. At 11h15, he flushed a flock of around 45 Mallard Anas platyrhnchos. A single bird
broke off from the flock, climbed quite high, circled for 2 to 3 minutes, and then descended into
the grassland. For most of the time, the bird was at a distance of 300–500 m from the observers,
although it was over 1 km away by the time it landed.
Three observers (T.A., J.C.E. and A.W.T.) watched the bird through telescopes for most of the
time that it was airborne. All three noted that the bird was medium-sized (around the same size
as a Mallard), with a pale head and neck, contrasting with a dark body and upperwings. Only two
medium-sized ducks occurring in South-East Asia have this combination of features: Pink-
headed Duck, and Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha. The lack of white tertials rules out A.
A. W. Tordoff et al. 44
p. haringtoni, the most widespread subspecies of Spot-billed Duck in South-East Asia. It does
not, however, rule out another subspecies, A. p. zonorhyncha, which has very reduced white in
the tertials, and which was recorded in the lowlands of Kachin state during the November–
December 2004 survey (Tordoff et al. in press).
The fact that the bill appeared to all three observers to be the same pale colour as the head and
neck, as in an adult male Pink-headed Duck, rather than appearing dark with a contrasting
pale tip, as in Spot-billed Duck (Figure 6), the facts that one observer (T.A.) thought that he
saw pink on the head and neck as the bird initially flushed and that the flight of the bird
was not obviously like that of any other duck, suggest that it was a Pink-headed Duck not a
Spot-billed Duck. However, one observer (J.C.E.) noted white underwing coverts contrasting
with dark flight feathers, which is a feature shown by Spot-billed Duck but not Pink-headed
Duck, and none of the observers noted a pale leading edge to the upper wing coverts
or contrasting (buff) secondaries, both of which are features of adult male Pink-headed
Ducks.
While one of the observers (T.A.) felt that the bird seen at Nawng Kwin was very likely a
Pink-headed Duck, the other two felt that it was not possible, on the basis of views obtained, to
rule out the zonorhyncha subspecies of Spot-billed Duck. On balance, therefore, this record
should be treated as a possible but unconfirmed sighting of Pink-headed Duck.
The place where Saw Aung thought that the bird had flushed from was visited on 2 December
2004. It comprised two pools of open water, each 10–12 m in diameter, in an area of knee-high,
inundated grassland, c. 35 m wide, surrounded by taller grasses over 3 m in height.
Figure 5. Nawng Kwin wetland, Kachin State. The photograph is taken from the point from
where a possible sighting of Pink-headed Duck was made in December 2004. (Photograph by
Andrew W. Tordoff.)
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar 45
Kamaing
On 8 December 2004, a boatman on the Tanai river reported to the survey team that he had seen
a Pink-headed Duck in the Kamaing area, although without providing information on the date
and year. The bird was reportedly seen alone out of the water.
A second anecdotal report related to the Kamaing area was received from Dr La Kha (the same
person who reported having seen the species near Talawgyi; see above) on 10 October 2005. Dr
La Kha reported seeing two ducks on the lower Indawgyi river, close to Kamaing town (Figure 2),
in 1999 or 2000. The birds were reportedly swimming on the river and flushed when the boat he
was travelling in approached. He reported noticing that the male had a pink, unusually shaped
head but without a dark throat, as illustrated. He also reported that the female’s head looked like
a typical duck’s. He added that the area where he saw the birds was a vast grassland at the time
but had since been largely converted to cultivation. Considering that this report refers to birds
Figure 6. Comparison of heads of (from top to bottom): male Pink-headed Duck; male Spot-
billed Duck subspecies zonorhyncha; female Pink-headed Duck; juvenile male Pink-headed
Duck; Spot-billed Duck subspecies zonorhyncha. (Photograph by Jonathan C. Eames.)
A. W. Tordoff et al. 46
swimming on a river and the equivocal description given, it seems more likely that these birds
were Red-crested Pochards or, indeed, another duck species, than Pink-headed Duck.
The Kamaing area was visited briefly during December 2004, in response to second-hand
reports of the occurrence of Pink-headed Duck and reports that the area supported pools in
grassland. Unfortunately, the survey team was unable to procure a boat and the survey was
restricted to anthropogenic habitats near Kamaing town (25u31’300N, 96u439000E; c. 175 m a.s.l.;
Figure 2).
A longer visit to the Kamaing area was made between 11 and 26 October 2005, during which
the survey team visited 12 ox-bows and three large grasslands near the Nat Kaung river (Figure
2). The large grasslands visited contained a small number of scattered pools, and were drained by
deep streams (Figure 7). During the visit, a number of anecdotal reports of Pink-headed Duck
were received, several of which appeared to have been prompted by the posters circulated prior to
the survey. On 13 October 2005, the survey team received a report from a man who claimed to
have seen the bird on Nawng Kooh In (25u419150N, 96u399000E), a small ox-bow, c. 300 m west
of the Nat Kaung river. He reported that the bird is very shy and always sees people before they
see it, then retreats into emergent vegetation. The survey team visited Nawng Kooh In on the
same day but it was very quiet with few birds.
On 13 October, the survey team received a report from a man who claimed to have seen two
Pink-headed Ducks at night several months previously on Man Tin In (25u299150N, 96u459450E),
a large ox-bow, c. 600 m east of the Mogaung Chaung (Figure 2), downstream of Kamaing town.
He described the male as dark with a pink head. He reported that the bird is very shy and keeps
to the water’s edge. The survey team visited Man Tin In on 27 October, and it appeared to be
very suitable for waterfowl, with pools of open water amid floating vegetation and grasses. Only
five Cotton Pygmy-geese Nettapus coromandelianus were seen, however.
On 16 October, the survey team received a report from Poh Sa, a farmer along the Nat Kaung
river, who reported that, in September–October 2004, while looking for rubies near Za Baw
Figure 7. Kamaing area, Kachin State. The photograph shows one of the large grasslands
studded with pools near the Nat Kaung river. (Photograph by Jonathan C. Eames.)
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar 47
village, he camped near a pool in a valley lined with wild bananas. Every evening, he reported,
two ducks came to roost near his camp, leaving again every morning. He thought that the ducks
were Pink-headed Ducks, because the male was larger and more colourful, while the female was
smaller and paler. In response to this report, members of the survey team visited the pool near
Za Baw village together with Poh Sa on 20 and 21 October, where they heard a White-winged
Duck Cairina scutulata coming to roost in the evening and saw one leave on the following
morning. This was one of several examples of local people having difficulty distinguishing
between Pink-headed Duck and White-winged Duck. This problem was perhaps compounded by
the fact that White-winged Duck was not included on the posters as a possible confusion species,
and the fact that the illustration of the female Pink-headed Duck (which was taken from
Grimmett et al. 1998) does superficially resemble a White-winged Duck.
On 17 October, the survey team received a report from a fisherman who claimed to have seen
five Pink-headed Ducks on a pool in the large grassland to the north-east of the Nat Kaung river
in 2004. He added that the ducks had been too shy to hunt. The survey team followed up this
report on 19 October, and visited two medium-sized ox-bows by elephant back. The first ox-bow
was over 100 m long, about 1 m deep and bordered by tall grass and reeds. The second was about
200 m long and 20 m wide, with a row of stunted, submerged trees down the middle. Both ox-
bows were bordered on one side by forest and on the other by a large grassland, and neither
showed any signs of human disturbance. However, no waterfowl were observed.
On 22 October, the survey team received several reports of an unusual duck from people
living near the large grassland to the south-west of the Nat Kaung river. They reported that the
bird visits pools in the grassland from the Thadingyut Festival (mid-October) onwards, that it
keeps to itself and that it is never found together with other ducks. However, they described the
bird as resembling domestic Muscovy Ducks Cairina moschata, which are widely kept in the
area. Based on this description, these reports probably refer to White-winged Duck.
On 28 October, the survey team met with the leader of Shaduzup village in the south-east of
Hukaung Tiger Reserve, who claimed that he had recently seen an unusual duck while hunting
in the Kamaing area, which he thought might be Pink-headed Duck. After detailed enquiries,
however, it transpired that the bird he had seen resembled a domestic Muscovy Duck.
Consequently, this report probably also refers to White-winged Duck.
In addition to the various anecdotal reports received, one of the survey team (S.M.A.) had a
possible but unconfirmed sighting of a Pink-headed Duck on Kyaw In (25u399150N, 96u419150E).
At around 17h30 on 16 October, S.M.A. had a very brief (1–2 second) view of a duck with a
whitish, unusually shaped head, contrasting with a sandy brown body with a white patch in the
folded wing. S.M.A. felt that the bird was probably a Pink-headed Duck but that he was not
certain. His description would seem to fit only an immature bird, and should be treated as a
possible but unconfirmed record. Kyaw In is a narrow ox-bow, c. 600 m in length, which lies c.
750 m east of the Nat Kaung river. The western shore of the ox-bow was bordered by gallery
forest, while the eastern shore was bordered by a large grassland. The ox-bow contained a large
amount of emergent vegetation, including small trees, as well as floating vegetation plus patches
of open water. Survey team members revisited Kyaw In on the two following days, from before
dawn until after dusk, with three observers watching from concealed positions spaced along the
ox-bow on each day. However, only one further observation of a duck was made: a single Lesser
Whistling Duck Dendrogyna javanica.
Availability of habitat
The BirdLife/BANCA surveys revealed that apparently suitable habitats for Pink-headed Duck
remain in the lowlands of Kachin state. These habitats, which comprise grasslands with scattered
pools, and ox-bow lakes in the floodplains of lowland rivers, are superficially similar to those
described for the species in India. Hume and Marshall (1879–1881), for example, describe the
species’ habitat as ‘‘tanks and pools, thickly set with reeds and aquatic plants, swamps dense with
A. W. Tordoff et al. 48
beds of bulrushes and the like, and nullahs and ponds hemmed in by forest’’. Simson (1884)
gives a similar description: ‘‘vast, extensive and much-neglected plains, studded at considerable
intervals with small poor villages, intersected with very deep clear streams’’, terrain that was
‘‘difficult to cross on foot in the dry season’’, and home to ‘‘scattered … pools of deep water,
extending over areas from ten to forty acres, abounding in wild fowl and crocodiles, surrounded
by very high grass … and covered with beautiful lotus plants’’. On these pools, Simson (1884)
reported, ‘‘the Pink-headed Duck resorts at all seasons of the year’’.
Similar habitats, albeit less extensive than those described by Simson (1884), persist in at least
four sites in the lowlands of Kachin state: along the Tanai river; Nawng Kwin; the Kamaing area;
and the Indawgyi river. The last site (25u19’000N, 96u31’000E) appears, from remote sensing
data, to include a significant area of grassland and swamp, scattered with pools. Due to
permission difficulties, it was not possible to visit this area during the BirdLife/BANCA surveys.
The former three sites were surveyed extensively, with possible sightings of Pink-headed Duck
being made at two of them and detailed anecdotal reports of the occurrence of the species being
received at all three of them.
Current status of Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar
Possible sightings and anecdotal reports aside, the fact that three sites were found to support
apparently suitable habitat for Pink-headed Duck raises the question of why the species was not
confirmed there, despite intensive survey effort. One hypothesis is that the species never
occurred at these sites, a second is that is occurred there historically but has since become
extirpated, while a third is that there are features of the species’ ecology which led to it being
overlooked during the surveys.
Evidence in favour of the first hypothesis includes: (i) there are no historical records from any
of these sites; and (ii) available information on the ecology and habitat requirements of Pink-
headed Duck (in particular, the almost total lack of data pertaining to the species’ habitat
requirements in Myanmar) are not sufficiently detailed to permit an accurate assessment of
whether any extant habitats are suitable for the species. Evidence against the first hypothesis
includes: (i) there are two historical reports of Pink-headed Duck from the lowlands of Kachin
state; and (ii) the lowlands of Kachin state were the focus of very limited ornithological study
historically. If there are features of the species’ ecology that meant that it tended to be under-
recorded, the scarcity of historical records from this little-studied area is unsurprising.
The principal evidence in favour of the second hypothesis is that all three sites displayed signs
of human disturbance, including fishing, conversion of grassland to cultivation and burning of
grassland, while, in the case of the Tanai river, hunting of waterbirds was observed. Indeed,
several informants claimed to have considered, attempted to or succeeded in hunting the species
in recent years. Evidence against the second hypothesis includes: (i) all three sites were found to
support one or more waterbird species that are sensitive to human disturbance and/or hunting
pressure and, consequently, have undergone extensive declines in South and South-East Asia
over the last century, including White-winged Duck, Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata and
Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, and it seems improbable that disturbance and/or
hunting pressure would have led to the eradication of Pink-headed Duck but not these species;
(ii) anecdotal reports of the continued presence of the species were received from all three sites,
and while some of these reports appeared, on closer questioning, to refer to White-winged Duck,
others were consistent with Pink-headed Duck; and (iii) possible but unconfirmed sightings were
made at two of the sites.
Evidence in favour of the third hypothesis includes: (i) there are several historical reports that
the bird is shy and wary of humans: Irby (1861) called it ‘‘excessively wary’’, while Jerdon
(1862–1864) called it ‘‘shy and somewhat wary’’; (ii) a number of informants interviewed during
the BirdLife/BANCA surveys corroborated these historical reports, by describing the bird as
‘‘very shy’’ and that it ‘‘always sees people before they see it, then retreats into emergent
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar 49
vegetation’’; (iii) there is a significant amount of historical evidence that the bird seldom flies
during the middle of the day; Jerdon (1862–1864), for instance, reported that ‘‘during the heat of
the day, it generally remains near the middle of the tank or jheel’’; in this context it is notable
that the survey of Nawng Kwin and the two surveys along the Tanai river were impeded by
dense fog, which typically did not lift until mid-morning, after the end of the peak period for
bird activity; (iv) there is historical evidence that the species may feed at night, like many other
duck species: Simson (1884) reported that the species was ‘‘seldom … seen flying to the feeding-
ground before sunset, but stays all day in the pools, where it lives till disturbed’’, while B. H.
Hodgson (in Hume and Marshall 1879–1881) reported that it ‘‘feeds at night’’; and (v) historical
evidence that the species may be at least partly nocturnal is corroborated by two informants
interviewed during the BirdLife/BANCA surveys, who reported seeing (and, in one case,
hunting) it at night.
On balance, therefore, there are several reasons for believing that Pink-headed Duck may still
persist in the lowlands of Kachin state and, perhaps, elsewhere in Myanmar. Shyness, combined
with rarity, possible nocturnal habits and the impenetrability of its habitats, means that the
species tended to be under-recorded historically, and may continue to be so currently. This set of
factors would explain why several historical records of the species related to incidental sightings
(or shooting) of birds flushed by hunting parties penetrating inhospitable grassland terrain in
search of tiger (e.g. Baker 1922–1930).
Recommendations
Site conservation and safeguard
Regardless of whether or not they support Pink-headed Duck, the Tanai river, Nawng Kwin and
the Kamaing area are all priorities for conservation action. These three sites support wetland and
(in the case of the latter two) grassland bird communities that are as close to an original (pre-
1900) state, in terms of species composition and abundance, as any in mainland South-East Asia,
and support some of the best remaining examples of wetland and grassland ecosystems
remaining in the region. Only the Tanai river is currently included within an established
protected area (Hukaung Tiger Reserve). Both the Nawng Kwin wetland and key habitats within
the Kamaing area should be placed under conservation management, whether formal protected
area status or non-formal management by local stakeholders. In addition, all three sites should
be integrated into land-use and development plans, to safeguard against the risk of their
integrity being compromised by incompatible land-use or infrastructure development planning
decisions.
Further research
The review of historical and recent information on the status of Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar
presented in this paper reveals that the species may possibly persist in lowland wetlands in
Kachin state, although this has not been confirmed. Consequently, there is a need for further
surveys of lowland wetlands in Kachin state, to determine whether they support the species, and,
if the species is confirmed to occur, to assess its status, distribution and habitat requirements.
Priority sites for further studies include the Tanai river, Nawng Kwin, the Kamaing area and the
area of grassland and swamp along the Indawgyi River north-east of Indawgyi lake. At each of
these sites, analysis of remote sensing data should be undertaken to determine the extent of
remaining grassland habitat, and the location of pools and ox-bows, followed by field surveys in
multiple seasons. Given the possibility that the species is at least partly nocturnal, particular
attention should be paid to finding vantage points overlooking apparently suitable pools and ox-
bows, and mounting all-night vigils.
A. W. Tordoff et al. 50
Further surveys are also required of wetland areas away from the lowlands of Kachin state,
following a similar approach. In particular, the Singu-Mandalay area may be worthy of
attention, as it is from this general area that the two historical specimens are thought to have
originated. The stretch of the Ayeyarwady river between Singu and Mandalay towns (c. 60 km,
in a straight line) is extensively braided and its floodplain contains a large number of pools and
small lakes. While this area appears, from remote sensing data, to contain a significant amount
of human settlement and cultivation, field surveys may reveal remote, seldom visited
wetlands, which could potentially be suitable for the species. One site worthy of a follow-up
visit focusing on Pink-headed Duck is Khu Le In, Singu township, Mandalay division, which
may correspond to ‘‘Koolay near Singu’’, an historical collecting locality for the species. Khu Le
In was visited on 11 February 2001 by a team from the Wild Bird Society of Japan and the
Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division of the Myanmar Forest Department (Davies et al.
2004). However, the team appear not to have been aware of the site’s significance as a possible
collecting locality for Pink-headed Duck, nor to have made any specific investigation about the
species.
Away from the Singu-Mandalay area, a detailed analysis of wetland habitats in Rakhine state
should be conducted, in light of the provisional historical record from there. If potentially
suitable habitat is identified, field surveys should be undertaken, adopting a similar approach to
that outlined above.
Acknowledgements
The preparation of this paper and the fieldwork reported herein were generously supported by
the Darwin Initiative, as part of the project entitled Building Constituencies for Site-based
Conservation in Myanmar, and the BirdLife International Asia Bird Fund. The authors would
like to thank the Ministry of Travel and Tours in Myanmar for granting permission for
fieldwork. The authors also wish to thank Robert Prys-Jones of The Natural History Museum
(Tring) and Clem Fisher of World Museum Liverpool for permission to view skins of Pink-
headed Duck, as well as Paul Sweet and Shannon Kenney of AMNH and Asad Rahmani and
Zafar-ul Islam of BNHS for their assistance in obtaining photographs of Pink-headed Duck
specimens in their collections.
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ANDREW W. TORDOFF*
BirdLife International Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge CB3 0NA, UK.
TIM APPLETON
Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Egleton, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8BT, U.K.
JONATHAN C. EAMES
BirdLife International in Indochina, N6/2+3, Lane 25, Langtla Street, Hanoi, Vietnam.
KARIN EBERHARDT
80P Kanbawza Lane 1, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
HTIN HLA, KHIN MA MA THWIN
Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, A/6-2 Anawrathar Housing, Hledan, Ward
#2, Kamayut Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
SAO MYO ZAW, SAW MOSES, SEIN MYO AUNG
Wildbird Adventure Travels and Tours, P. O. Box 1136, Yangon, Myanmar.
*Author for correspondence; e-mail: jackbirdlife@hotmail.com
Received 27 June 2006; revision accepted 26 April 2007
A. W. Tordoff et al. 52
... From 2003 to 2005, several expeditions took place in the Upper Chindwin, Lake Indawgyi, neighboring wetlands, and the Bhamo wetlands near the middle reaches of the Ayeyarwady River. Even though there were two possible sightings, these were eventually not accepted by all expedition members (Tordoff et al., 2008). Any rediscovery in the world would be most likely in the Ayeyarwady Basin, and the Upper Chindwin Basin has the most suitable habitats and is poorly surveyed (Tordoff et al., 2008). ...
... Even though there were two possible sightings, these were eventually not accepted by all expedition members (Tordoff et al., 2008). Any rediscovery in the world would be most likely in the Ayeyarwady Basin, and the Upper Chindwin Basin has the most suitable habitats and is poorly surveyed (Tordoff et al., 2008). ...
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... 15 The Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea was the focus of several intensive searches in the early 2000s, which did not produce any reliable records despite visiting most of the remaining superficially suitable habitats. 16 Similarly, that the two species White-shouldered Ibis and The Pink-headed Duck were not seen in this study area Taungthaman Lake. Lebbin 17 stated that the physical environments inhabited by living organisms, are fundamental to their survival. ...
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https://www.facebook.com/MONRECForestryMyanmar/photos/a.194331834451000/373046626579519/?type=3&theater မိုးယြန္းႀကီးအင္းသို႔ ယခုႏွစ္ ငွက္မ်ိဳးစိတ္ႏွင့္ ငွက္ေကာင္ေရက်ေရာက္မႈ ယခင္ႏွစ္ထက္ ပိုမိုမ်ားျပား https://www.facebook.com/MONRECForestryMyanmar/posts/387793578438157 ၂) ေဆာင္းခိုငွက္မ်ားႏွင့္ ကမာၻ႔ေရဝပ္ေဒသမ်ားေန႔ ================== ရမ္ဆာကြန္ဗင္းရွင္းကို ၁၉၇၁ ခုႏွစ္၊ ေဖေဖၚဝါရီလ ၂ ရက္ေန႔တြင္ အီရန္ႏိုင္ငံ၊ ရမ္ဆာၿမိဳ႕တြင္ ကမာၻ႔ႏိုင္ငံ ကိုယ္စားလွယ္မ်ားျဖင့္ ကြန္ဗင္းရွင္းစတင္ က်င္းပဖြဲ႕စည္းခဲ့ျခင္းျဖစ္သည္။ ထိုကဲ့သို႔ ကြန္ဗင္းရွင္းစတင္ဖြဲ႕စည္းခဲ့ သည့္ ေဖေဖၚဝါရီလ ၂ ရက္ေန႔ကို ကမာၻ႔ေရဝပ္ေဒသမ်ားေန႔ (World Wetlands Day) အျဖစ္သတ္မွတ္ခဲ့ၿပီး ကမာၻ႔ႏိုင္ငံအသီးသီး၌ အထိမ္းအမွတ္အခမ္းအနားမ်ားကို ႏွစ္စဥ္က်င္းပလ်က္ရွိသည္။ ရမ္ဆာကြန္ဗင္းရွင္းသည္ ကမာၻ႔ႏိုင္ငံေပါင္း ၁၇၀ ႏိုင္ငံတို႔မွ အဖြဲ႕ဝင္အျဖစ္ပါဝင္ၿပီး သက္ဆိုင္ရာ အစိုးရအဖြဲ႕မ်ားက ေရဝပ္ေဒသမ်ားကို ေရရွည္တည္တံ့ေစေရးႏွင့္ ေရေပ်ာ္ငွက္မ်ား၊ ေဆာင္းခိုငွက္မ်ားကို ထိန္းသိမ္းကာကြယ္ရန္ ဖြဲ႕စည္းထားသည့္ ကြန္ဗင္းရွင္းတစ္ခုျဖစ္ၿပီး ကြန္ဗင္းရွင္းသေဘာတူညီခ်က္ကို ကတိကဝတ္အျဖစ္ လိုက္နာ ေဆာင္႐ြက္ၾကရန္ လက္မွတ္ေရးခိုးထားျခင္းလည္း ျဖစ္သည္။ ေရဝပ္ေဒသမ်ားအား ထိန္းသိမ္းျခင္းႏွင့္ အက်ိဳးရွိ စြာအသုံးျပဳျခင္းတို႔ကို ကမာၻလုံးဆိုင္ရာ သေဘာတူညီခ်က္အျဖစ္လည္း ႏိုင္ငံတကာအဆင့္၊ ေဒသအဆင့္ႏွင့္ ႏိုင္ငံ အဆင့္အလိုက္ အေကာင္အထည္ေဖာ္ေဆာင္႐ြက္ လ်က္ရွိသည္။ အဖြဲ႕ဝင္ႏိုင္ငံမ်ား လိုက္နာရသည့္ အဓိကအခ်က္ ၃ ခ်က္မွာ ႏိုင္ငံအတြင္းရွိ ေရဝပ္ေဒသအားလုံးကို အက်ိဳးရွိစြာ အသုံးခ်ျခင္း၊ ႏိုင္ငံတကာ အဆင့္အေရးပါသည့္ ေရဝပ္ ေဒသမ်ား (ရမ္ဆာေရဝပ္ေဒသထိန္းသိမ္းေရး နယ္ေျမ) ကိုထိန္းသိမ္းျခင္း၊ စီမံအုပ္ခ်ဳပ္ျခင္းႏွင့္ ပူးတြဲပိုင္ဆိုင္သည့္ ေရအရင္းအျမစ္မ်ားႏွင့္ မ်ိဳးစိတ္မ်ားအေပၚ ႏိုင္ငံတကာ ပူးေပါင္းေဆာင္႐ြက္ျခင္းတို႔ျဖစ္သည္။ photo https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280565135_The_importance_of_the_Myanmar_coast_for_water_birds The importance of the Myanmar coast for water birds https://medcraveonline.com/IJAWB/IJAWB-03-00104.pdf https://myanmar.wcs.org/Wildlife/Birds.aspx BIRDS http://www.myanmar-ecotourism.org/index.php/qbird-watching-in-moeyungyi-wetlands Bird watching in Moeyungyi Wetlands https://www.cms.int/sites/default/files/document/Inf_11_2_Report_from_Myanmar_0.pdf Conservation of migratory water birds and their habitat in Myanmar https://www.cms.int/sites/default/files/document/inf_04_14_Myanmar_0.pdf Wetland Conservation in Myanmar https://www.ramsar.org/news/150000-migratory-water-birds-protected-as-myanmars-gulf-of-mottama-designated-as-a-wetland-of 150,000 migratory water birds protected as Myanmar’s Gulf of Mottama designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention https://youtu.be/GQyo5oFRRfQ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_birds_of_Myanmar List of birds of Myanmar http://fatbirder.com/links_geo/asia/myanmar.html Birding Myanmar http://datazone.birdlife.org/userfiles/file/IBAs/AsiaCntryPDFs/Myanmar.pdf https://phys.org/news/2015-01-myanmar-tallies-bird-species-previously.html Myanmar tallies 1,114 bird species, 20 previously unrecorded January 29, 2015 byAye Aye Win https://www.fauna-flora.org/news/indawgyi-lake-myanmar-bird-watcher-paradise Indawgyi Lake in Myanmar: A bird watcher’s paradise http://eaaflyway.net/documents/mop/mop7%20presentations/day%201/1.6.1%20myanmar.pdf
... Myanmar had not been as extensively surveyed as India in the past and attention transferred there after the turn of the century. However, recent intensive surveys in Myanmar (Anon 2003, 2006, Eames 2005, 2008, Tordoff et al. 2008, Thorns 2017, have all been equally unsuccessful. Nevertheless, another expedition to Myanmar, ...
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The Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea has always appeared to be mysterious and rather uncommon, and has not been reliably recorded since the 1940s; it is now almost certainly extinct. Comparatively few specimens were taken in the first two decades of the twentieth century. In 1923, Sir David Ezra, resident in Calcutta, offered a reward for live specimens and during the next six years at least 16 live birds were sent by him to his brother, Alfred, who owned a menagerie at Foxwarren Park, England. This increased collecting pressure on the remaining population may have been the ultimate reason for its extinction. I suggest that the last claimed observations of wild birds, between 1947 and 1949, are open to considerable doubt as no specimens were preserved. Although there was the offer of another substantial reward from 1930 onwards, this was never claimed and it is more likely that the last observation of the species in the wild occurred over a decade earlier, in 1935. This means that the last probable record of the species, that of a captive bird held in Calcutta, was in November 1948.
Chapter
Native aquatic wildlife species are declining within their natural range worldwide. Simultaneously, invasive species now dominate many aquatic landscapes in most parts of the world. Both groups require effective and accurate monitoring to guide management actions. This chapter offers background information on the issues surrounding monitoring of threatened and invasive species in aquatic environments—with a focus on amphibians, otters, American mink, muskrats, nutria, waterfowl, and other aquatic birds. Present-day human and passive monitoring techniques are reviewed in regard to efficacy, accuracy, and resource intensity. Current and potential applications of detection dogs for these aquatic wildlife groups, as either stand-alone or supplementary monitoring techniques, are considered. Examples of known related uses of dogs are provided, and potential future applications for detection dogs are highlighted.
Technical Report
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The Ayeyarwady Basin is a vast area of more than 410,000 square kilometers, covering a total of 12 diverse eco-regions – from Hkakabo Razi Mountain at 5,881 metres (m) with its alpine shrub and meadow system dropping down to the delta mangroves and mudflats at sea level. The Ayeyarwady Basin is one of the most diverse biological regions in the world. It is the 19th richest region in bird diversity globally. It is home to 1,400 mammal, bird, and reptile species of which more than 100 species are globally threatened. At least 388 fish species are known to occur in this region, but the total is estimated to be nearer 550 once most of the areas have been surveyed. For most taxa, the current knowledge is very scarce and scattered. Amphibians and many invertebrates are little studied. This report focusses on wetland and riverine habitats and the biodiversity that is relatively well-studied. The analysis of the biodiversity in the basin is a sobering account of a wide-spread and systemic degradation of the basin’s species, habitats, and ecosystem functions. The findings in this assessment confirm a wide-spread decline in almost all taxa and across almost all regions. Several vertebrate species among the mammals, birds, and reptiles have already disappeared from the Ayeyarwady Basin, and many others are likely to follow suit if conservation actions are not taken seriously and supported with proper resources. The declines are pronounced and sharp, in particular for comparatively well-monitored water birds on many river stretches and lakes. A few species are increasing. Yet the vast majority is declining and, in some areas or regions, sharply, creating a sense of urgency to protect the characteristic, yet fragile biodiversity of the Ayeyarwady Basin. The riverine breeding birds, such as terns, skimmers, and lapwings, are most affected alongside the fast disappearing freshwater turtles, reflecting the overall precarious situation in the river and its wetlands. The threats and reasons for the declines are variable and far ranging, including large-scale industrial development, flyway-related issues among the migratory birds, small-scale but increasing sand and mineral mining, precipitious hunting, and poaching across the entire basin. The fragile river system and its wetlands are under enormous and increasing pressure from hydropower development, sand, pebble extraction, mining for gold and other minerals, and over-exploitation of its biological resources. It is a unique ecosystem and a lifeline for millions of people living in the center of the country. It deserves full protection and strict control over its resource management. Rapid changes in social and economic conditions will likely occur across Myanmar in the near future as annual rates for economic growth are expected to be as high as 8% and tightly linked to natural resource exploitation. Overall, Myanmar is close to a market of more than half a billion people. This creates new and additional challenges for people and biodiversity, which are already under enormous environmental stress. This could be addressed through policy and institutional reform and the integration of environmental safeguards into economic development planning. Some of these safeguards must be a comprehensive network of protected areas and a sustainable resource management that is negotiated and led by communities and supervised by an Integrated River Basin Management Committee and local subsidiaries. A resource management plan for entire rivers and adjacent wetlands needs to be established that includes no-take zones free of any fishing, mining, and dredging. In total approximately 90 key biodiversity areas have been identified, including 6 new areas based on the findings of this analysis. Only approximately 50% of these areas are included in a Protected Areas system. However, progress has been made recently, and two new Ramsar Sites have been designated. The Ayeyarwady River is unique. Its is one of the largest rivers in Asia that has not been fragmented by dams. It is largely unconstrained in its hydrology, sediment, and nutrient flow and still hosts a unique suite of biodiversity of international importance. Its scenery with quaint villages and pagodas, impressive sandbars, and gorges is unique and beautiful. It would certainly qualify as a World Heritage Site under natural criteria and possibly also for cultural criteria. This would not only boost the conservation of the region’s rich cultural and natural history but also provide a long-term vision for the local communities that builds their livelihoods and promotes a viable economy through eco-tourism and sustainable use of the river’s natural resources. Water birds have been well-studied, and long-term trend data are already available and have been analysed. These groups of birds are proposed as biodiversity indicators, and a suite of monitoring sites is proposed to monitor the health of the wetland ecosystems in the basin. In addition to the water birds and freshwater turtles, the river dolphins act as key sentinels for the health of the river ecosystem. The Irrawaddy River dolphin population is in a critical but stable state. The Yangtze Dolphin is extinct, and the Mekong River population of the Irrawaddy Dolphin is on the brink of extinction due to human impacts on the river ecosystem. Myanmar has the choice to either follow the destructive path of the Yangtze and Mekong Rivers, where biodiversity has suffered and the dolphins have been lost (Yangtze) or almost lost (Mekong), or opt for sustainable development in balance with biodiversity and people.
1883) A handbook to the birds of British Burmah, including those found in the adjoining state of Karennee. Volumes 1-2
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Oates, E. W. (1883) A handbook to the birds of British Burmah, including those found in the adjoining state of Karennee. Volumes 1-2. London: R. H. Porter and Dulau & Co.
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The birds of Burma. Rangoon: Rangoon Gazette Press A list of the birds of the Bhamo district of Upper Burma
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