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Saving Gurney's Pitta and its forest habitats in Thailand and Myanmar

Gurney's pitta was thought to be confined to one tiny forest patch in southern Thailand, until its dramatic rediscovery in Myanmar in 2003. RSPB has been supporting efforts in both countries.  As hopes are expiring for the small population in Thailand, the much larger population in Myanmar still offers a great opportunity for the survival of the species.  The main problem the species faces is forest loss due to conversion into commercial plantations.

Project objectives

  • To support efforts to protect large areas of lowland forest in southern Myanmar

Progress so far

  • Loss of forest halted in Thailand
  • Discovery of the Gurney's pitta in Myanmar leading to down-listing the species to Endangered
  • Research on the species' population, distribution and ecology undertaken in Myanmar and Thailand
  • Training of researchers and conservationists in both countries

Work planned or underway

The next stage is to support the protection of the proposed Lenya National Park and important surrounding habitat in Myanmar


The population in southern Thailand is very small, although the loss of forest appears to have halted.  Research has been completed demonstrating how its forest habitat can be restored. A tree nursery has been established and reforestation plots planted.  Despite the efforts of partners, reintroduction may be the only long-term solution for a viable population in Thailand.  In Myanmar, the population is much larger and estimated to number between 10,000 and 30,000 pairs.  Discovery of this population led to the species being downgraded from Critically Endangered to Endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species.  The distribution and ecology of the Gurney's pitta in Myanmar are now far better understood and this information is feeding into efforts to secure the protection of large forest areas.

Who to contact

Dr Paul Donald
Principal Conservation Scientist


Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST), Oriental Bird Club, Department of National Parks (Thailand), Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (Myanmar), BirdLife Asia, Forest Restoration Research Unit at Chiang Mai University (Thailand)


The Darwin Initiative of the UK Government and the Oriental Bird Club