Myanmar, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has a long coastline, mountain ranges, three seasons and a good geographical location. The natural scenic beauty of rivers, mountain ranges, snow-capped mountains, natural lakes and wildlife sanctuaries are the main attractions of the country in the region.
Starting from the first week of November, with the transition from the rainy season to the winter season, the cold weather is covering both the upland and lowland areas across the country.
The migratory birds increasingly flock to the Ramsar site and inland regions for winter in Myanmar. Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary in Bago Region is one of the primary habitats of winged visitors.
Moeyungyi Reservoir, which was built in 1878, was for setting adrift woods in the canal connecting the Bago River to Sittoung River. After decades, Moeyungyi Lake existed. Then, it was declared as a protected area in Myanmar and Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary was established in Pyinbongyi Town of Bago Region on 2 April 1988, covering an area of 2,560 acres. Myanmar became a member of the Ramsar Convention in March 2005 and Moeyungyi Sanctuary was first recognized as a Ramsar Site in Myanmar.
Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary is the habitat of the wildlife animals, migratory birds and rare bird species. It is a protected area for endangered bird species. Therefore, research activities of the bird species, preserving and raising awareness of the wetland ecosystem, encouraging the participation of the locals in environmental conservation and supporting the eco-tourism services are being implemented.
There are 206 waterbird species, other 400 migratory bird species, 60 endangered bird species and nine bird species that originated in Myanmar. Moeyungyi Wildlife Sanctuary is home to 12 mammals, 28 amphibians and raptile animal species, 33 types of insects, 59 migratory birds, 77 birds originated in the lake, 44 fish species and 74 aquatic plants. Most importantly, rare bird species such as Eurasian Curlew, cranes, Finns’ Weaver, whiskered terns, eagles and spot-billed pelican are critically endangered species.
The seabirds and bird species from the North Pole migrate for the winter to various countries through nine flyways; East Atlantic, Mediterranean/Black Sea, West Asia-East Africa, East Asia-Australasian, Mississippi/US, Atlantic/US, Central Asian, West Pacific, Pacific-US flyways. They fly from their breeding grounds to wintering grounds to survive. Migration is the regular seasonal movement undertaken by many species of birds. Birds and aquatic animals respond to the changes in the environment first.
Every year, migratory birds from the North Pole flock to the southern regions which have freshwater lakes, where there is abundant food, away from colder regions with frozen lakes and short food supply that make it difficult for them to survive.
Migratory birds enter Myanmar through two flyways: Central Asian Flyway and East Asia- Australasian Flyway every year. Moeyungyi Lake is one of their destinations in winter.
Central Asian Flyway is the shortest route out of the nine flyways. About 307 bird species including 182 seasonal migratory species and 20 rare species pass 30 countries from Siberia to the southernmost and Southeast Asia.
Every year, over 50 million birds population, including 49 migratory bird species and 28 endangered species migrate through East Asia-Australasian Flyway, passing 37 countries from the eastern Russian Far East and Alaska to southwards through East Asia and Southeast Asia. They fly to 900 wetland areas in winter.
A total of 10,473 bird species are registered in the world and over 11,000 species in Myanmar, 982 in Thailand, 781 in Malaysia, 375 in Singapore, 710 in Laos, 900 in Nepal, 657 in the Philippines, 848 in Viet Nam and 553 in Cambodia are respectively found. Myanmar is rich in bird species and has the natural habitat of critically endangered bird species.
Natural lakes and wildlife sanctuary draws the attention of tourists and the ecotourism sites generate revenues more than the cultural heritage sites. The world countries notice it and preserve them for sustainable tourism.
Inlay Lake, Indawgyi Lake and Moeyungyi Lake are the protected areas in Myanmar. Wetland ecosystem, the museum for biodiversity, bird watching and bird tour sites, boat camps, accommodation and other facilities are found in Moeyungyi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary attracts researchers who study the biodiversity and wetland ecosystem of migratory birds and other bird species. The wetland ecosystem helps the residents earn for living. Nevertheless, illegal bird hunting and electrocuting the fish can affect the biodiversity and so, the site must be closely observed.
Natmataung National Park is listed as one of the ASEAN heritage parks and Moeyungyi Sanctuary is also internationally recognized as first-ever Myanmar’s Ramsar Site and Flyway Network Site by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) in 2014.
The migratory birds contribute to the ecotourism business, allowing the locals to earn income. Myanmar’s Moeyungyi Sanctuary welcome the visitors in high season. It is located at 6 furlongs from Pyinbongyi Town and 19 miles away from 39-Mile Phayagyi Road section of the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway.
Bird watchers who are eager to see the various bird species and migratory bird species, and visitors who enjoy ecotourism can visit the Moeyungyi Sanctuary which covers an area of 25,600 acres in the winter high season. — Thitsar (MNA)/GNLM