By Aung Win Nyein (Kanbalu)
Myanmar is rich in natural resources and biodiversity, therefore, legislation and policies are enacted to protect and conserv e the environment. Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary located in Kanbalu and Kawlin townships, Sagaing Region is one of the protected areas for wildlife animals, plant species and ecosystem. Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area of the native bird species, migratory birds in winter, diverse species and Myanmar gol den deer in the dipterocarp forest which is locally known as Indaing.
Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary covers 21,908 acres in Kanbalu Township and 42,356.42 acres in Kawlin Township. The sanctuary conserves biodiversity and Indaing ecosystem to contribute towards sustainable development. Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary conservation activities are being implemented with an aim to promote environmental conservation practices, stand as an educational centre for conservation, and enhance the socio-economy of the local community and ecotourism.
It is home to critically endangered Myanmar golden deer, six bird species and one reptile species. The rare six bird species are Jerdon’s Minivet, Hooded Treepie, Ayeyawady Bulbul, native Bushlark, white-throated Babbler and native Dove. One rare reptile is the rare flap shell turtle. Moreover, the endangered species such as python, boa, migratory birds, forest bird species and other 787 diverse species are recorded at Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, said U Win Naing, warden of Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary.
A total of 10,473 bird species are identified in the world and 1,116 bird species are found in the country. Myanmar is home to many endemic and endangered bird species.
Next, 262 bird species (223 forest bird species and 39 waterbird species) are recorded at Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, along with the priceless natural resources. Other 30 migratory bird species including waterbird species such as gull, Spoon-billed sandpiper, woodcock, red-wattled lapwing, greylag goose, and ruddy shelduck, and forest species such as Indian paradise flycatcher, barn swallow, brown shrike, wagtail, Eurasian Wryneck are found at Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary. Migratory birds flock to the Wildlife Sanctuary between October and March. The population of migratory bird species vary every year, according to a bird survey conducted between the 2016-2017 Financial Year and 2020-2021FY. Wetland areas in the Chatting Wildlife Sanctuary are estimated at 1,000 acres in the monsoon period, about 400 acres in winter and 300 acres in summer.
The visitors can enjoy bird watching, boat tours, trekking, cycling and observing the animal and plant species. A guesthouse is also located at the sanctuary for a night trip.
According to global biodiversity conservation pacts, the Kyayin wetland area in the sanctuary is also a protected land to sustain the habitats of migratory birds.
Every year, migratory birds flock to the freshwater lake, where there is abundant food, away from colder regions with frozen lakes and a short food supply that make it difficult for them to survive. The seabirds and bird species from the North Pole migrate for the winter to various countries through nine flyways. They fly from their breeding grounds to wintering grounds to survive. Migration is the regular seasonal movement undertaken by many species of birds.
Migratory birds enter Myanmar through two flyways: The central Asian Flyway and East Asia-Australasian Flyway every year. Kyayin wetland area at the Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the safe destinations for migratory birds.
As the bird species are warm-blooded animals, the incubation period is June to August. Some birds undergo colour changes in the breeding season. Bird species play a pivotal role in the valuable ecosystem and they defend the crops from the pests and rodents. They also carry out seed dispersal and pollination, resulting in tangible benefits to the people.
Bird surveys are conducted each financial year to observe the bird species which move to Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary in winter and undertake a comparative study for the population growth and decline of those migratory birds in each month and year
We also endeavour to record certain migratory bird species which choose their wintering spots, and contribute to research and awareness campaigns, said U Win Naing, a warden.
Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary is implementing habitat restoration for sustainable development and conserving the migratory birds and other endemic species, awareness campaigns to educate the local community about the importance of biodiversity and patrolling activities for wildlife conservation.