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Upper Irrawaddy and Mogawug Chaung

15°51'N, 94°17'E; about 10 km off the southern Arakan coast, opposite the mouth
of the Bassein River, Irrawaddy Division.

Area of wetlands unknown; approximately 300 km of the Irrawaddy River and 90 km of the Mogawng Chaung.


Biogeographical Province:

Wetland type:
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18 & 21

Description of site:
Large meandering rivers with many islands and sand banks, and the adjacent floodplains with numerous small lakes, marshes, seasonally flooded grassland and swamp forest. The rivers rise in the Kumon and Mangin Range and are mostly slow-flowing in broad valleys with extensive grassy marshes (Iwins). The Mogawng Chaung passes through a gorge west of Myitkyina, and the Irrawaddy passes through a gorge north of Bhamo. The most extensive marshes are on the west bank of the Mogawug Chaung 40 km southwest of Myitkyina, on the west bank of the Irrawaddy opposite Bhamo, on both banks of the Shweli near its confluence with the Irrawaddy, and on the east bank of the Irrawaddy near Tonbon. The numerous lakes and ponds are mainly of the oxbow type, with a maximum area of 500 ha. The main Irrawaddy splits into several channels between Tonbon and Tagaung, creating a complex of large islands and sand banks.

Climatic conditions:
Monsoonal climate; the average annual rainfall in southern Kachin varies between 1,800 mm and 2,500 mm.

Principal vegetation:
The original vegetation cover in the valleys included extensive areas of short grass, known as lwins. The hills were covered with tropical broad-leaved evergreen forest dominated by species of Terminalia and Shorea. The present condition of the vegetation is not known.

Land tenure:
No information.

Conservation measures taken:
No information.

Conservation measures proposed:
No information.

Land use:
No information.

Disturbances and threats:
Security problems in northern Burma have resulted in a ready supply of firearms, and it is likely that hunting is widespread.

Economic and social values:
No information.

No recent information is available. In the early part of this century, the region was noted for its large numbers of wintering waterfowl, particularly Anatidae. Common winter visitors included Anser anser, A. indicus, Tadorna ferruginea, Anas penelope, A. strepera, A. crecca, A. poecilorhyncha, A. acuta, A. querquedula. A. clypeata, Aythya nyroca, A. fuligula, Mergus merganser and Fulica atra. Other wintering waterfowl included Podiceps cristatus, Ciconia Ganigra, Anas falcata, Aythya baeri, Vanellus cinereus, several species of snipe Gallinago and Larus brunnicephalus. The area also supported a wide variety of breeding waterfowl including Tachybaptus ruficollis, Phalacrocorax carbo, P. niger. Anhinga melanogaster, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, I. flavicollis, Nycticorax nycticorax, Ardeola grayii, Bubulcus ibis, Egretta garzeua, E. intermedia, E. alba, Ardea purpurea, A. cinerea, Ciconia episcopus, Dendrocygna javanicus, Sarkidiornis melanotos, Netsapus coromandelianus, Gallicrex cinerea, Porphyrio porphyrio, Hydrophasianus chirurgus, Metopidius indicus, Rostratula benghalensis, Esacus recuryjrostrjs, Glareola maldivarum, G. lactea. Vanellus duvaucelii, Charadrius dubius, Sterna aurantia, S. melanogaster, S. albifrons and Rhynchops albicollis (Smythies 1953).

Several rare species of waterfowl are known from this region: the White-bellied Heron Ardea imperialis was reported to be fairly common along the upper regions of the Mali Kha to the north; the White-winged Wood-Duck Cairina scutulata was formerly quite common in swamp forests and riverine marshes as far south as the Shweli River; the eastern race of the Sarus Crane Grus antigone sharpii once nested in the lwins; and the Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata has been reported (Smythies, 1953). All four of these could still occur in the area. The Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea was recorded in the Bhamo area in the 19th Century. Although there have been no reliable sightings of this species in the wild since 1935 (in Bihar, India), there are recurrent rumours of its continued survival in the remote wetlands of northern Burma.
A small population of the Gharial Gavialis gangeticus occurred along the Shweli River in the early part of this century, but there have been no confirmed reports since 1927. The species may now be extinct in Burma (FAO, 1985a).

Special floral values:
No information.

Research and facilities:
Because of security problems in north Burma, the region has been closed to foreigners for many years and little if any research has been carried out by Burmese scientists.

FAO (1985a); Smythies (1953).

Criteria for Inclusion:

Operational Navigation Charts and references.