TANINTHARYI DIVISION: THE STRIP OF MYANMAR BETWEEN THAILAND AND THE ANDAMAN SEA
TANINTHARYI DIVISION is a long, narrow state sandwiched between Thailand and the Andaman Sea. The southernmost most administrative region in the country. division in Myanmar, Tanintharyi Division is bordered by Mon State to the north, Thailand to the east and the Andaman Sea in the east. Tanintharyi Division occupies a long narrow coastal plain bounded which runs to Kawthaung, the most southerly point of Myanmar and which then continues to the Malaya Peninsula. The coast is dotted with islands including the Heinze group. the Maung-Magan group and the Mergui or Mergui Archipelago. which comprises more than 800 beautiful and attractive islands.
Dawei (384 miles south of Yangon) is a port of medium importance and tropical seaside town in Tanintharyi Division. Natives speak Burmese but with a strong dialect. which is similar to Mergui. The most venerated pagodas are the Shin Motehti Pagoda, a few miles south of the town, Shin Datweh Pagoda in the north and Shin Maw Pagoda on the Dawei promontory. A 243-foot long reclining Buddha image occupies the Lawka Tharaphu Pagoda. In the 18th Century a group of Dawei people known as Inthas (“Sons of the Lake”) migrated to Inle to avoid the continual conflicts between the Burmese and Thais. The Inthas now live around Inle Lake in southern Shan State. Dawei is the capital of Tanintharyi Division.
Maungmagan (15 kilometers northwest of Dawei) is a beautiful seaside village and beach resort in Thanintharyi Division famous for delicious seafood. Most people in this region are fishermen. Various sizes of fishing boats are used in this work but Boatmahlay is the most useful for fishing families. It is a small wooden boat built without any iron or steel. The smallest Boatmahlay is 18 feet long and is used for fishing within nautical 10 miles from the coast.
The construction of Boatmahlay is interesting. It is built with Bantbwae wood planks attached with small wooden sticks placed into holes on either side of the boat. Two planks used for building the boat are joined together by putting small wooden sticks into the holes on the sides of the planks. Yaynyantha wood is kept between the two planks to prevent water seepage into the boat. Then the ropes are tied around the planks to keep them tight together. All the Botema boats are built in this way though there may be differences in size.The fishermen of Maungmagan village load their boats with food supplies and other needs for one or two days fishing at the sea.
The fishermen go out to the open sea by boats mostly at night depending on the weather and return to their village after catching a sufficient amount of fish. sea. Their wives put the fish on sale at the market.There are various kinds of fish Kettabaung Ngakunshut (mackerel) and Ngaleikkyauk sold at the Maungmagan fish market in the morning. Maungmagan Beach is thus alive with the fisherman and their fishing boats returning after a night’s fishing at the sea and carrying out preparations to go out to the open sea again in the evening.
Kawthaung: the Southernmost Town in Myanmar
KAWTHAUNG (800 kilometers from Yangon and 2,000 kilometers from the country's most northern tip) is the southernmost town in Myanmar. Formerly known as Victoria Point, it is one of the entry ports into Myanmar and is only separated from Thailand by a broad estuary in the Pakchan River. Across the river is the border town of Ranong. Thailand. Kawtaung is a Burmese port that lies along the Andaman Sea and the river that divides Burma and Thailand. It is a starting point for trips to the Mengui Archipelago and can be reached by a 20-minute longtail boat ride from Ranong, Thailand. Ranong is 200 kilometers north of Phuket. Visitors from Ranong can take a 30 minutes boat trips to Kawthaung for sightseeing and shopping. There are regular flights from Yangon to Kawthaung. Entry visas. valid for 28 days and border passes are issued at Kawthaung. The main business of Kawthaung is trade with Thailand, fishing, rubber and cashew nuts. Most Kawthaung residents speak Burmese and Thai. Kawthaung's bustling waterfront is lined with teashops, stores and shops arranging boat charters to Thailand for visitors and traders. Duty Free Shops and a few restaurants in the Burmese palace replica building are located in front of the Kawthaung harbor. A huge bronze statue of King Bayintnaung, one of the great Myanmar kings, outfit in full battle regalia and brandishing a sword, stands at the crest of a hill on the cape. A spectacular sea and island view from a hilltop pagoda known as the Three Mile Pagoda is located in a fishing village five kilometers north of town. See Thailand Victoria Point
Tha Htay Kyun (Boss Island) is within 10 minutes from Kawthaung. The Andaman Club is located Zadakale (St Luke) Island. Tha Htay Kyun has beaches but its coast is too rocky for swimming. It is possible to visit to islands nearby and explore coral reefs where few people have been. Some Islands are inhabited by Salons or Sea Gypsies who sail around the islands and are known by various names., including the Orang Basin, Chaunam (Water folk in Thai) and the Moken (Mae Ken) to themselves.
TANINTHAYI FOREST CORRIDOR
Taninthayi Forest Corridor (southernmost Myanmar) was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The Taninthayi Forest Corridor (TFC) is one of the largest remaining areas of unprotected low and mid-elevation, seasonal evergreen forest in Southeast Asia. It is located in the Taninthayi Range that straddles the southern Thai-Myanmar border and contains a multitude of globally threatened species.Taninthayi and Lenya National Parks (TNP, LNP) were proposed in 2002, followed by LNP Extension in 2004, but none have been gazetted. Between TNP and LNP Extension there is a 65-km gap. This gap, which is partially covered by the Thagyet Reserved Forest (TRF), covers 290,100 hectares. If this and the other proposed NPs were gazetted, they would form a contiguous 1 million-hectare corridor stretching from TNP in the north to LNP in the south, a distance of 280 km.
The TFC lies within the northern section of the Indochinese-Sundaic zoological transition zone, which divides Indo-Chinese flora and fauna from Sundaic species (Hughes et al. 2003). The corridor contains some of the southernmost dry seasonal evergreen forests before they transition to aseasonal wet evergreen forest further to the south. It provides habitat for several EN species including the Asian Elephant, Gurney’s Pitta, and Sunda Pangolin.
The four parts of the corridor are described summarized below: 1) Taninthayi National Park (TNP): Location: 12°41'16” N, 98°10'32” E; Area: 364,284 hectares. The northernmost of the four parts, TNP was proposed in 2002. It consists primarily of evergreen forest. It is home to the world’s smallest known mammal, the VU Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai). This species is only known from in small colonies in southern Myanmar and adjacent Thailand (Bates et al. 2008; Pereira et al. 2006-10). TNP is contiguous with 482,225-hectare Kaeng Krachan NP, which was added to Thailand’s TL in 2011 for criterion x (UNESCO World Heritage Centre 2013). The eastern boundary follows the Taninthayi River, which also forms the border between Myanmar and Thailand. 2) Thagyet Reserved Forest (TRF): Location: 12°05'31” N, 99°21'24” E, Area: 290,100 hectares: The 65 kilometers gap between TNP and LNP is unprotected. It is partly covered by the TRF. From inspection of satellite images, the forest cover is in good condition and the area is believed to have similar values to TNP. But no biodiversity surveys have been carried out here for security reasons. It would lie next to Kuiburi NP in Thailand.
3) Lenya National Park (LNP): Location: 11°08'47” N, 99°03'01" E, Area: 184,792 hectares: LNP shares a border with Namtok Huai Yang NP in Thailand and is composed of seasonal lowland and mid-elevation seasonal evergreen forest. It shares the natural values and characteristics of the other parts of the corridor. Some of LNP is being used for logging and has been allocated for palm oil plantations. 4) Lenya National Park Extension: Location: 11°35'37" N, 99°19'30 E, Area: 185,258 hectares: LNP and LNP Extension were proposed following the discovery of a large population of Gurney’s Pitta (Pitta gurneyi), which resulted in its conservation status changing CR to EN. LNP Extension (also known as the Nawun Reserved Forest) contains 99% of the global population of the species (the other 1% is in Thailand). The extension includes similar habitat to both TNP and LNP. LNP Extension is contiguous with Thailand’s Sadeth Naikrom-Krom Luang Chumporn (North) Wildlife Sanctuary.
Taninthayi Forest Ecosystem and Environmental Threats
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: TFC contains the largest remaining block of lowland evergreen forest in Mainland Southeast Asia. Its position in the transition zone between Indo-Chinese and Sundaic flora and fauna give it a high diversity of both locally endemic and globally threatened species. This transition zone is recognized as one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world (Woodruff 2010). The series of range disjunctions that occur in this transition create a unique assemblage of flora and fauna from both biogeographic zones, creating globally distinct species assemblages. They also shed light on the evolutionary interplay between habitat type, ecological history, and species range. [Source: Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar]
The four parts of the property cover more than 1-million hectares and include sufficient elevation range and habitat types to preserve the diverse flora and fauna of the region. If all four sections are gazetted, they connect meta-populations over a large contiguous area and provide a north-south corridor for adaptation to climate change. The size of the corridor is also provides opportunity to conserve wide-ranging species including the Tiger, Asian Elephant, and Plain-pouched Hornbill. In 2004, 100-150 elephants were thought to be in the corridor (Leimgruber et al. 2011). Conservation of the property is essential for the survival of Gurney’s Pitta. The corridor’s value is further augmented by its connection to more than 6 million hectares of protected area in Thailand, including more than 482,000 hectares nominated as a WHS. These properties together provide an outstanding potential for conserving wet and lowland evergreen forests in Southeast Asia at a landscape scale.
The TFC would form one of the largest protected areas of lowland and mid-elevation evergreen forest in Southeast Asia, preserving ecological and evolutionary processes over 1 million hectares. It also provides insights into the history of these processes by encompassing the transition zone between Indo-Chinese and Sundaic biogeographical regions. The floral and faunal transitions are gradual and disjunct, providing an area rich in opportunities for the study of biogeography.
Satellite images show deforestation and apparent conversion to agriculture in the southwest corner of TNP. TNP Extension is crossed by a dirt road between Myeik (Myanmar) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Thailand) that passes a 400-hectare Nong Bwa coalmine near its southern border with LNP Extension. This road may be upgraded in the near future, which would increase access to interior parts of LNP Extension. A Myanmar Timber Enterprises concession overlaps with part of the TNP Extension.
Both LNP and LNP Extension have overlapping concessions. Satellite images for LNP show deforestation and agricultural plantations in the southeast corner (more easily accessible from Thailand). Small areas of agricultural cultivation are visible in riparian areas in northern LNP Extension. Although these areas are relatively small, they should be excluded from any gazetted protected areas. Of the four parts, TNP would be the most straightforward to gazette because it has no overlapping concessions. However, the value of the corridor lies in its size. One approach would be to nominate these areas in stages.
Taninthayi Forest Wildlife
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The property contains multiple threatened and regionally-endemic species. LNP and LNP Extension hold 99% of the global population of the Gurney’s Pitta and are critical for its continued survival. In addition, the TFC serves as a refuge for Sundaic species that have seen their numbers decrease as palm oil plantations have spread across similar forest Thailand and Malaysia. [Source: Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar]
Key animal species for LNP and LNP Extension (many of which are likely present in Taninthayi NP as well) include (Myanmar Biodiversity (2012):Mammals: Endangered: Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar), Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus), Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica), Asian Elephant (Elphas Maximus); Vulnerable: Binturong (Arctictis binturong). Reptiles: Endangered: Mangrove Terrapin (Batagur baska), Spiny Turtle (Heosemys spinosa); Vulnerable: Asiatic Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea), Black Marsh Turtle (Siebenrockiella crassicollis), Burmese Eyed Turtle (Morenia ocellata). Birds: Endangered: Gurney's Pitta (Pitta gurneyi).; Vulnerable: Plain-pouched Hornbill (Rhyticeros subruficollis), Great Slaty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus), Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus)
The TFC is large enough to preserve both ecosystem processes and provide habitat for key species, especially considering contiguous protected areas across the border in Thailand. It contains some of the largest areas of lowland evergreen forest that have not been converted to plantation in Southeast Asia. While wildlife trade does occur, it may be at relatively lower rates for some species, such as the Sunda Pangolin, under heavy commercial hunting pressure in other parts of Southeast Asia. Major threats are rubber and oil palm concessions inside and outside of proposed protected areas.
Taninthayi Forest Connection to Thailand
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The most similar property in terms of size and habitat is the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (KKFC) in Thailand. It ranges in elevation from 100m to 1,500 meters and is made up of three protected areas: Mae Nam Phachi Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaeng Krachan NP, and Kui Buri NP. Kaeng Krachang is the largest NP in Thailand and is also an ASEAN Heritage Park. It is contiguous with TNP. KKFC is located on the eastern flank of the Tenasserim Range (12°53'20” N, 99°24'28” E) and is part of the larger Western Forest Complex (WFC) of Thailand. Its climate is similar to sites across the border in Myanmar, characterized by year-round humidity and a rainy season (May-October), cool season (October-February), and dry season (February-May). It is 85% covered by evergreen rainforest that provides habitat for similar species as found in TFC.
TFC connects to more than 6 million hectares of protected area in Thailand, including more than 482,000 hectares nominated as a WHS. The continuity between these areas and the TFC provides great potential for a transboundary property. The survival of wide-ranging wildlife would be enhanced by management that encompasses their full range. Conservation work in Thailand’s WFC has shown that tiger populations can quickly increase with adequate protection (WCS 2013). A transboundary property would enhance the ability of Thailand and Myanmar to coordinate management of these forests on a landscape scale and better protect wildlife. While there is no formal cooperation in place, the governments do share information about poaching through the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network and this relationship could be strengthened in the development of a transboundary site.
MENGUI ARCHIPELAGO: HOME OF THE MOKEN SEA NOMADS
the Mengui Archipelago (in southern Myanmar near Thailand) is a string of 800 mostly uninhabited islands with stunning white sand beaches and lovely blue and green water, sea gypsy nomad (Moken or Selung) camps, and delightful rain forest teaming with wildlife such as sea eagles, kites, hornbills, herons, gibbons, flying fox, crab-eating monkeys, elephants, crocodiles, pythons, kraits, cobra, wild pigs, buffalo and deer. The underwater life in coral reefs is just as diverse. Also known as the Myeik Archipelago, the islands and their wildlife are similar to the Similan Islands in Thailand and the wildlife found there.
Taninthayi city is on an island in the mouth of Tannintharyi River. Visitors can fly to Kawthaung from Yangon by three airlines — Myanmar Airways, Air Mandalay and Yangon Airway. It takes about one and half hours to fly from Yangon to Kawthaung. Visitors also arrive via Phuket or Ranong, Thailand. The areas was off limits to tourist for a long time but was opened in the 1990s. Many travelers visit the islands by sailboat or long-tailed boat. Some sea kayaking is also done. Many of the trips are done through dive and tour operators based in Phuket, Thailand.
One 19th century explorer wrote “these are mostly mountainous islands, stretching from Tavoy Island south beyond the limits of British territory...Those amongst them which are not bare rocks are clothed with dense vegetation...They are sparsely inhabited, a few Burmese and Karen having settled on one or two. They are the resort of peculiar race, the Selung, who rarely or never leave them to visit the mainland. The most westerly are composed of granite and porphyry, those nearer the mainland of sandstone, grauwache and conglomerate. The islands are infested by snakes and wild animals—tiger, rhinoceros and deer.”
The islands haven’t changed that much since then except that the tigers and rhinos are gone. The Moken sea nomads that live here live in temporary huts. Burmese fishermen live on stilted huts in the forest near the beach. At low tide they collect shellfish, shrimp and shellfish, check their fish traps and fish with tridents. At high tide fishermen head out in their long-tailed boats and traditional Mawken boats, on which sea nomads live when they go out to sea.
Mengui Archipelago is arguably the most undeveloped place near a major developed place. Large Thai resorts like Phuket are relatively close nearby. Many visitors either sleep on boats on stay in camps that consist of just a few tents. It remains to see if the islands will remain as unspoiled as they now.
Mengui Archipelago Islands and Geography
The Mengui archipelago is scattered over an area of about 14,000 square miles. Most are jungle covered granite islands. Some are limestone, karst pinnacles that look Guilin in China or Halong Bay in Vietnam. In the old days they were notorious hang outs for pirates as well as sea nomads. The Mengui Archipelago is situated on the southern Taninthayi Division of Myanmar (formerly known as Tennesarim coast of Burma). In the east of Myeik, there are many valuable tin mines, palm oil and rubber plantations and evergreen forest. In the Andaman Sea, there are pearl oyster and fishing beds. Pearl Island is the source of high quality pearls.
Mengui Archipelago was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The Mengui Archipelago (MA) comprises about 800 islands of primarily limestone and granite located along 60 kilometers off Myanmar’s southern coast. These islands are covered by lowland wet evergreen forest and surrounded by an extensive coral reef system. Mangrove forests, beach and dune forests, and seagrass beds add to the faunal and floral diversity. The MA contains one protected area: Lampi Island Marine National Park (LIMNP), which was designated in 1996 and is an ASEAN Heritage Park. MA contains two shark protected areas and three small crab protected areas (40, 46, and 121 hectares, respectively). The MA and Andaman Sea are home to about 1,000 indigenous nomadic Moken and more who are no longer nomadic. [Source: Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar]
The MA property may include portions of the coastline of Taninthayi Division and could be extended inland to form a reef-to ridge site. Areas important for wildlife, including breeding beaches for sea turtles, aggregation sites for marine life like manta rays at Black Rock, and group roosting sites, like Hornbill Island with its 150-individual roosts of Plain-pouched Hornbill, could form core zones of the property. The MA and Andaman Sea form a single large marine ecosystem with the corals in Thailand, which were severely bleached 2010, restored by polyps from Myanmar.
The Moken is a group of maritime hunter-gathers that traditionally roamed freely between the small islands, reefs and shoals in the Andaman Sea and ranged across an area that embraces the waters off Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. Also known as Sea Gypsies, Chaolay and Sea Nomads, they are similar to sea nomads in the Sulu and South China Seas between the Philippines and Indonesia. Although there are a number of subgroups, the Moken can be viewed as a single unified group in that different groups have similar myths and religious practices and their languages are mutually intelligible.
There were once many Sea Nomad groups, who spoke a variety of languages. The Selung and Moken are two names used to describe nomadic boat people that live off the coast of Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo. There are only a few thousand of them left. Moken has been used to describe people living around Mergui Archipelago off Myanmar. The origin of Selung is not clear. Moken means “sea drowned.”
The Moken are a nomadic sea culture of Austronesian people who likely migrated from southern China some 4,000 years ago, and, moving through Malaysia, eventually split off from other migrant groups in the late 17th century. The Moken lifestyle began to change after World War II when mainlanders moved to the islands to escape diseases and was dealt a blow when the islands they traditionally visited were transformed by the tourist industry.
Moken speak a Malay-based language and were given a written language by missionaries. They have little interest in writing and generally can’t write Burmese. Their religion was is tied to their myths about their origins and the sea. Youths often made their own boats at relatively young age so they roam around and look for women. Moken have traditionally gone to sea in the dry season and stay on islands in the wet season. Their boats have traditionally been painted black and have curved notches in the bow and stern (symbolizing a mouth and an anus). Many have diesel engines. When their engines break down they paddle.
Places in the Mengui Archipelago
Myeik (just off the Myanmar mainland) is the only sizable town in the Mengui Archipelago Also known as Mergui town, is lies on a mangrove island and is a sleepy fishing backwater but at one time was an important Indian Ocean port. Among the people found here are monks with begging bowls, Tamil market women, Muslim traders and Asian-featured Catholics.
Pula Nala Island is the home of Marghon Galet, a village where the government has attempted to settle a community of Moken. The village is kind of artificial. The Moken have traditionally not lived in one place. There are lots of Burmese here as well as some souvenir shops, a monastery, a school, a hospital and a fuel depot. But not many Moken if any can be found there in the dry season.. About 400 Moken live there in the rainy season. The government encourages them to send their children to school but the Moken are not interested. When they are in their boats in the dry season, Burmese fishermen occupy their homes. Some of these are dynamite fishermen and illegal timber harvesters.
Lampi Island is shaped like a fishing hook and is as big as Singapore or Phuket. Mountainous and mostly uninhabited, it features beaches lined with mangroves and teak forests.
St. Luke Island has a lovely white sand beach on its north side that is backed by dense forest with parakeets, monkeys and monitor lizards. There are some Selung villages.
Elephant Island is a spectacular karst island, also known as Pan Daung, set among other karst islands. It contains a Burmese fishing village and a logaoom that can only be reached through a cave in a limestone cliff. The Marbles Islands are spectacular karst islands.
Mengui Archipelago Ecosystem and Wildlife
According to the report submitted to UNESCO: The Mengui Archipelago (MA) contains most of Myanmar’s coral reef, along with some of its best preserved mangrove forests, lowland evergreen forests, and seagrass meadows, and forms an ecological system of outstanding biodiversity and integrity. Surveys have recoded 50 globally threatened plants and animals on LIMNP alone, including 20 dipterocarp species, three species of sea turtles, dugong, and a variety of fish, coral, sea cucumbers, and other marine species. The MA is large enough to support landscape species like the Plain-pouched Hornbill and maintain the full suite of ecological and evolutionary processes. [Source: Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar]
Coral reefs, seagrass beds, lowland evergreen forests, and mangroves are under great pressure elsewhere in the region from overharvesting and conversion, making the MA of high global importance for marine and coastal conservation. The MA contains all the components necessary to sustain ecological and evolutionary processes. Mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass beds play distinct roles in the life cycles of marine organisms, while intact lowland evergreen, mangrove, and coastal forests support a suite of wide-ranging species linking islands and habitat types. Further surveys of outlying islands may reveal endemic species that have evolved as a result of relative isolation and serve as an example of the evolutionary processes of island systems.
The MA contains multiple threatened terrestrial and marine species. While data is lacking for much of the archipelago, marine wildlife observed include the Dugong, Whale Shark, three species of sea turtle, manta rays, and a suite of sharks species. The Plain-pouched Hornbill is a landscape species that flies between islands of lowland evergreen forest. Seagrass beds, located primarily on the eastern side of islands where they have some protection from monsoons winds and waves, provide forage for sea turtles and Dugong. Although the number of Dugong present is unknown, surveys indicate about 200 individuals in the Andaman Sea further south. There may be over 500 hard coral species in the Archipelago, though additional surveys are necessary to confirm species richness. [Source: Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar]
Surveys of LIMNP have recorded 195 evergreen plant species and 63 plants associated with mangrove forest. In addition, 19 mammal, 228 bird, 19 reptile, 10 amphibian, 42 fish, 42 crab, 50 gastropod, 41 bivalves, 35 sea-cucumber, 73 seaweed, 11 seagrass, and 333 plankton species have been identified, including many globally threatened species (Oikos and BANCA 2011; Myanmar Biodiversity 2012). A greatly increased survey effort is needed to document patterns of biodiversity across all 800 islands and marine areas. This information is needed to zone the MA into core and multiple use zones. Existing knowledge indicates that MA has outstanding value for the conservation of marine and terrestrial species. Globally threatened terrestrial species present include:
Mammals: Endangered: Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica); Vulnerable: Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides), Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus), Dugong (Dugong dugon), Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea), Southern Pig-tailed Macaque (Macaca nemestrina). Birds: Vulnerable: Plain-pouched Hornbill (Aceros subruficollis). Reptiles: Critically Endangered: Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea); Endangered: Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Spiny Turtle (Heosemys spinosa),; Vulnerable: Asian Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis), Asiatic Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea), Burmese Eyed Turtle (Morenia ocellata). Plants: Critically Endangered: Dipterocarpus spp.(20 species), Sonneratia griffithii; Endangered: Heritiera fomes, Diospyros crumenata, Syzygium zeylanicum, Ternstroemia penangiana; Vulnerable: Abarema bigemina, Memecylon grande
Mengui Archipelago Conservation
According to the report submitted to UNESCO: The MA contains some of the best preserved coral reefs, seagrass meadows, lowland evergreen forests, and mangrove forests in the region (Tun et al. 2008; Oikos and BANCA 2011). However, there are numerous reports of dynamite fishing, illegal in-shore and off-shore trawling, unregulated tourism development, the spontaneous arrival of fishers from elsewhere in Myanmar and other threats that could rapidly degrade its outstanding values. Dynamite fishing, which destroys coral reefs, is common around LIMNP. [Source: Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar]
There is a pressing need for a MA-wide management plan to direct new development, especially for tourism and fisheries, and protect key areas. This plan needs to take into account the MA’s size, limited government capacity, and the rapid pace of development. Such a plan would build on the body of research reports produced by the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project, the management plan for LIMNP being prepared by Oikos, data from ongoing marine surveys led by Flora and Fauna International, and other sources including Myanmar Universities. It should also take advantage of relevant experience in the Andaman Sea and regionally on sustainable tourism, locally managed MPAs, other conservation strategies.
There are approximately 1,000 nomadic Moken in the MA and Andaman Sea, and more who are no longer nomadic. The Moken’s lack of full citizenship limits their economic, educational, and political opportunities. As stakeholders with deep knowledge of the MA’s natural resources, there is a need to develop management arrangements that integrate Moken rights and responsibilities. The relationship of the Moken with the sea may meet cultural heritage criteria for this site.
The lack of reliable marine biodiversity data is perhaps the major constraint on designing management interventions. The last comprehensive, offshore fish surveys were conducted in 1979-1980 by a Norwegian research boat, which returned in November 2013. In 2007, the Department of Fisheries, in collaboration with Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) conducted a fisheries resource survey from the Gulf of Martaban (Mottama) to the MA. Need for more data is also reflected in uncertainty about the coral species richness in the Archipelago, with estimates from different sources ranging from 95 species to over 500 (Oikos and BANCA 2011).
Text Sources: Myanmar Travel Information, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, The Irrawaddy, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, burmalibrary.org, burmanet.org, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.
Last updated August 2020