Photo Credit: TBD

Saving the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper from global extinction



In 2010 WWT and partners travelled to Russia to help save the last of the spoon-billed sandpipers. Numbers of these birds are thought to number fewer than 100 pairs in the wild. Eggs were collected, hatched then brought back to UK, where we now have the first captive population of these birds.

Spoon-billed sandpiper from Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Watch unprecedented video footage from Cornell Lab of Ornithology of a Spoon-billed sandpiper mother and her chicks as they explore around the nest.

Conservation Problem

The incredible Spoon-billed sandpiper is hurtling towards extinction. There are probably fewer than 100 pairs remaining and the population is in freefall. Without urgent action, it will probably be gone within a decade.

The most acute cause of the rapid decline is believed to be hunting on the birds' wintering grounds on the coast of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The species has undoubtedly also suffered as mudflats along its migratory path have been developed. Conservation for the Spoon-billed sandpiper along the East-Asian Australasian flyway could potentially help over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations, including 28 globally threatened species.

Project Activities

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper's flyway covers a vast area. This SOS - Save Our Species project, implemented by Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), will focus on both the wintering and breeding sites.

WWT is working with Birds Russia to build capacity in Russia in 'head-starting' and the establishment of a monitoring scheme to measure success of in situ conservation measures. Birds Russia is overseeing the Russian element of the project, which centres around head-starting, establishing the monitoring programme and the collection of eggs for the conservation breeding programme. Birds Russia Chief Executive, Evgeny Syroechkovsky, is also chair of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.

National NGO At Sonadia Island in Bangladesh, the project staff will consolidate existing work with bird hunters, providing new and sustainable livelihoods. In the Chukotka region of Russia, the project will 'head start' birds - extracting eggs, incubating and rearing birds to fledging before releasing them back into the wild. This will massively increase the number of juveniles and allow staff to leg-flag birds for monitoring.

Project Outcomes

At Sonadia Island in Bangladesh the project aims to achieve a 75% reduction in the number of hunters and a similar reduction in the numbers of spoon-billed sandpipers trapped. Furthermore, at the end of the project, effective action by village conservation groups should be carried out on a regular basis.

At Meinypilgyno in Chukotka, the project will have 'head-started' 20 birds (fledged and released) with leg-flags by August 2012. Additionally, at least 15 birds will be added to the conservation breeding programme.

Click here to find out more about the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Project.

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