Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Chicks Hatched in Russia
A scheme to bring the rare, endangered spoon-billed sandpiper back from extinction has seen its first chicks born in the Far East of Russia. Conservationists said that 17 chicks have hatched in Chukotka. The team of experts is led by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust alongside Birds Russia. The spoon-billed sandpiper saw its numbers plummet to just 150-200 in 2009. The hope is the captive population, which will be taken via a month's quarantine in Moscow zoo to be reared at WWT's Slimbridge centre, Gloucestershire, will provide birds for future reintroduction and act as a safety net in case the species dies out. The migratory wading bird's numbers are thought to be declining by around a quarter each year due to very low survival rates of juvenile spoon-billed sandpipers and could go extinct within a decade without action to help it.
The sandpipers are being hit by hunting in their wintering grounds in Burma, and by damage to habitats on their migration "flyway" along the coasts of Korea, China and Japan.
While efforts are being made to tackle the threats to the species in the wild, it will not be possible to turn round the sandpiper's fortunes quickly enough to save it from extinction without securing a captive breeding population, the conservation groups said.