Local research assistants finished the first aquatic survey

The first independent field survey on aquatic biodiversity implemented by local research assistants

Chin Hills and Rakhine Yoma are important biodiversity hotspots in western Myanmar, and may be the area being poorest understood. The major drainages in Chin State are Chindwin River in the north and Irrawaddy River in the south, while it is more complicated in Rakhine State, and a northward-southward mountain range, Rakhine Yoma divided rivers into two major river systems, Irrawaddy in the east slope and a lot of independent rivers/streams/creeks from the west slope into Andaman Sea. A survey of aquatic biodiversity can expand our understanding of the rich biodiversity in Myanmar. 

From 13th March to 10th April, 2018, two young research assistant, Mr. PaingZaw and Mr. Nay HtetNaing of Aquatic Biodiversity Research Group of Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute (CAS-SEABRI) and Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) started a scientific survey of this area. It is the first independent field survey on aquatic biodiversity implemented by local research assistants only.

For limits from road condition and accessibility of the area, we mainly focused on some tributaries of Irrawaddy and Chindwin (Chin State) and some area of Rakhine State. Our first place is Thabeikkyin Town beside the Irrawaddy River, also near the Ruby Land called Mogoke. We moved our next station to the Katha City which located on the bank of the Irrawaddy River. And then we went to the Indawgyi Lake, the biggest lake in Myanmar. It is famous by the name of Biosphere Reserve. There are 95 species of fish discovered in the basin of this lake and it is very interesting place for fisherman and scientists who studied on fish. After this we moved our places to the direction of Chin State. We started that part from Kalay City. Our trip is from Kalay- Falam- Hakha- Matupi- Mindat (Natmataung National Park). On the hills which have the average elevation 1500m to 3000m. There are temporary roads that we can use only in dry season, while in raining season the roads are not accessiable. Even in this dry season, the road makes our car broken on the way, and significantly, we took 15 hours for the 179 miles (288 km) from Hakha toMatupi. Natmataung National Park has very beautiful rhododendrons, the icon of the Chin State, which protected species by the Government.  In Chin States, there are places that far from each other, so we brought lunch box in the trip.  Afterwards, we changed our direction to Rakhine State (Ann- Sittwe – Kyauktaw- Myauk U- Taunggoke- Gwa- Thandwe- Ngapali). There are mangrove and tidal area in the west and mountainous areain the east. So, we could collect freshwater fish from streams and marine fish from the market. The freshwater is far from the cities at Rakhine state for one and half hour by boat. We did survey around Rakhine State (2018.4.1- 2018.4.9). 

In this trip, we collected about 1000 fish specimen from 17 towns, 25 stations, which are not only freshwater fish but also some marine fish. The collection from this survey expanded our fish collectionand will support well our research on fishes of Myanmar.

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PaingZaw, Xiao-Yong Chen and Nay HtetNaing (from left to right)

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Manipur River on the way from Kalay to Falam

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Local fisherman caught fish

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Schistura rubrimaculata

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Paracanthocobitis linypha

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Danio kyathit