Govt officials spread awareness on killing of endemic bird species

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The population of white-throated babbler and six other bird species endemic to Bagan have increased since tourism halted after the spread of COVID-19.

The Forestry Department in Mandalay Region is planning awareness raising campaigns to prevent the capture and killing of 7 bird species that are endemic to the ancient city of Bagan. The species include the Myanmar skylark, white-throated babbler, barbary dove, white-bellied minivet, streak-earned bulbul, hooded treepie, and the Burmese prinia. Forestry Department Director U Zaw Win Myint said the number of birds and animals frequenting Bagan has increased since tourists stopped coming after the spread of COVID-19. He said there has also been cases of people hunting for fun or for other reasons. He said they began scouting around Bagan at the end of April to find the people killing the local animals and to dissuade them and to put up signboards to raise awareness. He said this has reduced hunting incidents.
There are 9 bird species endemic to Myanmar with the 7 species living in Bagan-NyaungU region and the other 2 species found in Nat Ma Taung (Mt. Victoria) region. They are a precious sight for birdwatchers from home and abroad, said Information Officer U Htet Tun Aung of the Bagan Tour Guide Association. He said they have put up signboards and vinyl posters to stop the hunting of these endemic species in the old Bagan site and in the city.
“With tourism at a standstill due to COVID-19, these birds have increased in numbers,” said U Htet Tun Aung. “But the children and youngsters here have begun to shoot the birds with slingshots and kill them. We confiscate their slingshots and teach them about the significance of these endemic birds. We don’t take any action against them as the youngsters were doing it for fun.” —Min Htet Aung (Mahn Subprinting House) (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)

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