The foliage is dying back and turning brown at Moeyungyi Wildlife Sanctuary due to the scorching heat in May. It is not time for the migratory birds to fly to Ramsar site so only a small number of visitors are witnessed at that time. However, relaxing nature’s sound and native birds singing are soothing the surroundings. The visitors can practise forest bathing and explore scenic views.
“It is a natural healing spot. Those bird watchers can visit the site when the migratory birds flock to the Moeyungyi Sanctuary. We stay at Bago and visit here. It is good to visit during the off-season. Feeling the breeze of nature relaxes our mind and body,” a visitor U Aung Kyaw Soe from Yangon city said.
Moeyungyi Sanctuary has a habitat education centre, birdwatching towers, accommodations, restaurants and boat tours for ecotourists. It is an appealing site for birdwatching tourism.
Myanmar’s Moeyungyi Sanctuary is 40 square mile (22,600 acres) wide and it is located between Waw Township and Bago Township, Bago Region. Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary is habitat of the wildlife animals, migratory birds and rare bird species. It is the protected area for the endangered bird species by the Forest Department.
Moeyungyi Sanctuary was recognized as Ramsar Site in Myanmar in 2004.
“As Moeyungyi Sanctuary is home to rare bird species and migratory birds, it was designated as Important Bird Area- IBA in 2011. East Asia- Australasian Flyway Partnership recognized it as Flyway Network Site in 2014,” said a warden of Moeyungyi Sanctuary in the Forest Department.
The department is implementing a five-year-wildlife sanctuary management plan (from 2019-2020 to 2023-2024) and ten-year-wildlife habitat restoration project (from 2019-2020 to 2028-2029) to preserve the wetland ecosystem.
“Our department is endeavouring to effectuate the development in ecotourism and create job opportunities for the local community while preserving the ecosystem. We ensure the balance between the tourism development and nature conservation,” a warden elaborated.
The staff of the Forest Department is patrolling the protected areas to combat bird hunting and illegal activities that affect the biodiversity. Also, they are raising awareness of the wetland ecosystem, encouraging the participation of the local residents in environmental conservation, protecting the migratory birds from illegal hunting and supporting the eco-tourism sectors. The department is conducting a bird survey to observe the population of native bird species and migratory birds. Similarly, collecting surveys on aquatic plants and fish species and water quality assessment for habitat restoration projects are being implemented as well.
There are 27 water bird species, 55 migratory bird species, 106 forest bird species at the Moeyungyi Sanctuary, totalling 185 species.
Migratory Birds enter Myanmar through two flyways: Central Asian Flyway and East Asia- Australasian Flyway every year.
Migratory bird species such as Glossy Ibis, Asian Openbill, whistling duck, purple heron, stork, spot-billed duck, pelican, Sarus Cane, northern pintill, Podiceps cristatus, Garganey, river tern, gull and Eurasian wigeon enter Moeyungyi through Central Asian Flyway, while Spoon-BilledSandpiper, black-winged stilt, American Golden-Plover, small pratincole, common crane, Ferruginous Duck and pied avocet fly via East Asia Australasian Flyway, according to the Forest Department.
“The population of birds is estimated at over 30,000. Most importantly, the critically endangered bird species (SarusCrane-VU, Spot billed Pelican- NT, Black headed Ibis- NT, Painted Stork-NT, Oriental Darter – NT, Greater spotted Eagle – NT, River Tem – NT, Black-tailed God-NT, Asian Golden Weaver-EN) and newly recorded species White -headed Stilt, Pied Avocet, Pallas’s Gull, Heuglin’s Gull, CaspianTern, Red-Breasted Merganser, Northern Shoveler, Short- tailed Shearwater, Common Crane are listed.
As a result of this, conservation and research activities and awareness campaigns for the local community to realize the importance of the ecosystem are also carried out, a warden said.
The Forest Department is striving for participation of the CSOs and those engaged in fishing business. The eco-tourism and community-based tourism plans are underway and research activities are also being undertaken for sustainable tourism efforts.
Moeyungyi Wildlife Sanctuary is the first ever Ramsar site recognized in Myanmar. Being an IBA and Flyway Network Site, the ecosystem sustainability is prioritized as well.
Wetland ecosystem helps the local residents earn for living. The department is making effort to keep balance and synergy between the tourism sustainable development and preserving landscape.