[Rob Sheldon, the RSPB's Head of International Species Recovery Team has been in Bangladesh reporting on work to help save the spoon-billed sandpiper]

My visit to Bangladesh has come to and end. It has been hugely satisfying to see the excellent work carried out by our partners in Bangladesh. With the reduction in hunting pressure at Sonadia and the great survey work being undertaken by Sayam and Foysal, it is clear that the future of Sonadia Island, as a home for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, is in safe hands.

The Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project has been working with BirdLife International and the RSPB to ensure that Sonadia Island’s conservation importance is recognised.  It is excellent news that Sonadia has been given global recognition through being declared the 20th Important Bird Area (IBA) of Bangladesh by BirdLife International.  A site is recognised as an IBA only if it meets certain criteria, based on the occurrence of key bird species that are at risk of global extinction or whose populations are otherwise irreplaceable.

Photo credit - Sayam U Chowdhury

“A series of recent surveys confirms that Bangladesh is still an extremely important wintering ground for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and we identified Sonadia Island as the main wintering site in Bangladesh” said Sayam U. Chowdhury, Principal Investigator of Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project.

I think Sonadia Island is incredible. During winter, huge flocks of migratory birds gather to feed on the mudflats. It’s spectacular, and even more amazing to think they have flown thousands of kilometers across Asia to get here! Sonadia Island is simply irreplaceable...

Photo credit - Sayam U Chowdhury

During my visit to Sonadia we were able to discuss the IBA declaration with delighted local officials. Inamul Haque, Assistant Conservator of Forest (coastal), Cox’s Bazar, said “mangrove coverage of Sonadia is expanding with our recent work which is improving the biodiversity of the area. We have been supporting the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project by avoiding mangrove planting in areas that are important for shorebirds. We have also been protecting the key sites from illegal hunting. I am delighted that Sonadia is receiving the international recognition it deserves by being declared an Important Bird Area. ” 

So plans are already underway for the next big awareness raising event of World Migratory Bird Day, and I’ll be returning for further project reviews later this year.

Photo credit - RSPB

This work is supported by SOS and WWT