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  • Writer's pictureLisa O'donnell

Myanmar & Australia: Sharing Common Ground on Annual Endangered Species Day.

Updated: May 29, 2020

At first glance, it’s fair to assume that Myanmar, a rarely internationally visited country, sandwiched between the tourist hot-spots of Thailand and India, is unlikely to have much in common with our unique and vast island of Australia. But that’s not true!

Both countries are steeped in centuries of cultural traditions, many of which are subtly layered in the landscape through the ages, like faded tattoos. The nations share environmentally diverse vistas: Grand rivers, lush rain forests, and varied coastlines of shore-side mangroves, coral reefs, and postcard beaches. Vast sunburnt plains are at the heart of each land. - Though Myanmar’s is dotted with ancient Buddhist pagodas (stupas), many laden with gold. While our gold lays deep within the ground. – And let’s not forget the people! Both are home to friendly and laid-back populations with a welcoming hand always at-the-ready for strangers.

Each country is also a crucial stop-over site for migratory waterbirds journeying the East Asian – Australasian Flyway. Every year, these birds embark on incredibly long journeys. Many traveling thousands of kilometers, en-route to/from breeding grounds, mostly in either New Zealand or Russia. Some birds use BOTH Myanmar and Australia for feeding stop-overs. Two such closely related birds are The Spotted, and The Common Greenshank.

Species: Common Greenshank. Location: Geraldton, Western Australia.

The birds prefer to feed while wading along wetland shorelines. Sightings in Australia are more likely in the coastal regions, as well as inland from the eastern seaboard. However, the Spotted Greenshank is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) ‘Red List’ as endangered, so you’ll more easily spot the Common Greenshank, whose population is currently listed as Stable.

"In Myanmar, you’re likely to spy the birds between November and March at Mein-Ma-Hla-Kyun Wildlife Reserve," states Lisa from Myanmar 1st Hand. Lisa and her husband Marty are Australians who are longterm residents of Myanmar and founders of the specialist Myanmar tour."It's one of the most remote of Myanmar’s 5 RAMSAR designated sites," she adds.

RAMSAR is the international treaty of conservation which designates wetlands of worldwide importance, also known as the Convention on Wetlands.

Mein-Ma-Hla-Kyun is located in Myanmar’s Delta Region, where the many spidery fingers empty the last of the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River’s flow into the mangrove coastline of the Andaman Sea. Located 5 hours by car and 2 hours by local boat from Yangon (Myanmar’s largest city), these bio-diverse wetlands are best explored with a specialist local-guide over a few days.

According to IUCN, there are more than 450 bird species listed as endangered in the world today. BirdLife International states that 55% (!) of the world’s migratory waterbird population is in dramatic decline. Both Myanmar and Australia are aware they must play their part to protect these delicate populations that visit their shores.

Specializing in ‘Soft Adventures’, Myanmar 1st Hand designs

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The 15th of May 2020 is the 15th Annual Endangered Species Day. For a comprehensive list of endangered animals, birds, and plants in the world, visit:

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