• photo: Daniel Pettersson

    Protecting Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Thailand

  • Spoonie survey in Bangladesh.

    Protecting Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Thailand

  • SBS with satellite tag photo: Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok

    Protecting Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Thailand

  • painting: Szabolcs K√≥kay

    Protecting Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Thailand

In Brief

Conservation Value:

The Critically Endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, which breeds in Russia and winters in Southeast Asia, is one of the world's most threatened shorebirds, with only 200 known breeding pairs. Conservation effforts underway, including this project, give hope for the species. Intertidal mudflats along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway support more than 50 million migratory birds each year, including 33 globally threatened species, hence efforts for this species provide broader benefits. At present, 80 percent of the known population of the spoon-billed sandpiper winters in Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, and Thailand. 


Throughout its migratory range, invertebrate-rich tidal flats are being converted to industrial use and adult birds are being hunted for food. There are no known immediate threats on its breeding grounds, but sea level rise and other effects of climate change are likely to be an impact throughout its range.  Many other shorebird species occupying these same habitats face the same threats and will also benefit from this project.

Actions & Results:

Our project for the spoon-billed sandpiper (CR) continued in shorebird landscapes across four countries in Asia, with a total count of 43 spoon- billed sandpipers (along with 67,555 waterbirds of 65 species). These areas also supported 300 globally endangered Nordmann’s greenshanks (EN), 7,159 great knots, and other threatened shorebirds. In addition to site protection, along stretches of coast we have removed hundreds of illegal mist nets (which are used to trap birds) and carried out effective conservation outreach work in communities throughout the spoon-billed sandpiper winter range.

  • guarding sites to protect birds from hunting
  • developing livelihoods in farming and fishing as an alternative to hunting
  • establishing no-hunting bylaws among Village Conservation Groups
  • supporting local non-governmental organizations to increase awareness of hunting’s impact on this endangered bird.


Sandwip Island and Sonadia Island in Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh; Nan Thar Island, in Rakhine state, Myanmar; Leizhou, Guandong province, China; and Pak Thale, Thailand.


Reduce the impacts of hunting (netting and nooses) on the spoon-billed sandpiper to stop and reverse their dramatic population decline.

Project Field Partner:

Project field coordinator Sayam U. Chowdhury, Assitant Coordinator of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Recovery Task Force, works with several partner organizations in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China.


Cumulative cost to ICFC (2016-2022): CA$454,755

2023 budget (ICFC portion):  US$34,132

Support this project


Click to enlarge an image

Mistnet removal at south china (photo: hkbws)
(photo: Khalid Sharifs)
(photo: Pavel Tomkovich)
Team leader Sayam Chowdhury et al.
survey team in bangladesh
Plovers going to market
spoonie breeding ground in Chukotka, Russia
(photo: Pavel Tomkovich)
Spoonie released
(photo: Pavel Tomkovich)
Spoonies (artist: Axel Thorenfeldt)

In More Depth...

Program Partners and Personnel

Project field coordinator Sayam Chowdhury works with two local partner organizations:  the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project (BSCP) in Bangladesh. the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) in Myanmar, and also with Vivian Fu of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society in China. Village Conservation Groups are also key to this effort.  Other supporters of this work are the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund.

Images from the field

Photo credit: Sayam U. Chowdhury, except where indicated.

Project personnel search for spoonbills and other shorebirds. Photo credit: BANCA

Spoonbills feeding at their wintering areas.

A former hunter instructs students on shorebirds and their conservation needs.

A former hunter has a new means to earn his livelihood. photo credit: BSCP

Community meeting.  photo credit: BSCP


Children in 8 countries learn about the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and help make an animated video about it.

A superb 5-minute unnarrated video by the Cornel Lab:

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