Creative Commons photo
Originating along the Chukotsk Peninsula in Russia, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is facing extinction. The birds migrate through 8,000 kilometres of coastline on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and breed only in lagoon spits and areas with crowberry-lichen vegetation. Once these spatulate-billed birds reach their wintering grounds along the Yellow Sea in China, they find their habitats lost to land reclamation for industry, tourism and agriculture. Besides changing, and even disappearing, coastlines much of the Sandpiper population is susceptible to trapping. Young Sandpipers spend up to the first two years of their life on non-breeding grounds and are thus more likely to be caught by hunters.
With so few birds remaining—an estimated 360-600 breeding individuals—the Spoon-billed Sandpiper has become the focus of conservation efforts. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has developed an international single species action plan to conserve breeding and wetland grounds while halting illegal trapping. The combined human and environmental threats on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper are devastating for the species, but with increased understanding and action we could save this unique creature from the brink of destruction.