Chiang Saen Basin (including Nong Criteria: A1, A3, A4i Bong Kai Non-hunting Area)

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TH007 Chiang Saen Basin (including Nong Bong Kai Non-hunting Area)

Chiang Saen Basin (including Nong Criteria: A1, A3, A4i

Bong Kai Non-hunting Area)

Province(s): Chiang Rai Latitude: 20º14'N

PA Status: partly in Non-hunting Area (1985) Longitude: 100º04'E

EBA / SA: none Area: 6,240 ha

Forest Complex: none Altitude Range: 300-500 m asl

General Description

The IBA is located adjacent to the international borders with Lao P.D.R. and Myanmar, and comprises a stretch of the main Mekong channel, a small freshwater lake, pools, swamps, rice paddies, grazing marshes and other alluvial floodplain habitats. Of particular importance are the Mekong channel habitats, including both rapid and slow-flowing stretches, sand and shingle bars and exposed bedrock, vegetated islands, and branching channels. The larger sandbanks are vegetated with Homonoia riparia scrub. The IBA includes the 434 ha Nong Bong Kai Non-Hunting Area, a swamp, which was designated as a Ramsar Site in 2001. Dominant aquatic plants at Nong Bong Kai include Salvia cucullata, Lemna perpusilla, Cyperus malaccensis and Phragmites karka. The IBA is adjacent to IBA LA027 in Lao P.D.R. (Upper Lao Mekong), which includes the section of the main Mekong channel on the Lao side of the international border.

Bird Fauna: Key Features

The site is of major importance for both resident and migratory bird species, most especially ducks and waders. The site supports significant wintering populations of the globally threatened Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri and the globally near-threatened Ferruginous Pochard A. nyroca. Other globally threatened wildfowl recorded include Baikal Teal Anas formosa and Swan Goose Anser cygnoides, both vagrants (in winter) to Thailand. Other wintering waterfowl recorded at the site that are scarce or absent elsewhere in Thailand include Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus, Greylag Goose A. anser, Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Tufted Duck A. fuligula and Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata. The site is also important for wintering gulls, terns and waders, including more than 1% of the Asian biogeographic population of Small Pratincole Glareola lactea and Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus.

Two globally near-threatened species, Blyth's Kingfisher Alcedo hercules and Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda, have each been recorded at the site once during the decade prior to 2004; the former is known from just one other site in Thailand (Mae Fang National Park IBA TH005), while the latter is now feared nationally extinct. There is also an historical record of the globally vulnerable Blackthroat Luscinia obscura. Furthermore, the site is important for the conservation of a number of nationally threatened resident species: the larger sandbars in the Mekong River between Chiang Saen and Chiang Kong provide breeding habitat for Great Thick-knee Esacus recurvirostris and River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii, while the vegetated islands and riverbanks support a significant population of Jerdon's Bushchat Saxicola jerdoni, a species characteristic of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (Biome 12).



Global Threat Status




†Swan Goose

Anser cygnoides




A single bird was observed in the Mekong channel in January 1996; this is the only Thai record of the species.

†Baikal Teal

Anas formosa




The species is vagrant (in winter) to Thailand; one male was observed at the site in January-February 2000.

Baer's Pochard

Aythya baeri




The species is an annual winter visitor to the site; the highest count of 83 birds was made in February 1977, but single figure counts have been more typical in recent years, with three to five birds recorded annually in the late 1990s.

Small Pratincole

Glareola lactea



At least 1,600 birds were counted on the riverine sandbars between Chiang Saen and Chiang Khlong in February 2002.

Spotted Redshank

Tringa erythropus



The species is a common winter visitor to the site; 280 birds were counted in January 1996, and a maximum count of 380 birds was made along the Mekong River in February 2002.

Note: † = not confirmed to regularly occur in significant numbers.

Biome-restricted Species: The site qualifies under criterion A3 because it supports one species (White-tailed Rubythroat Luscinia pectoralis) restricted to the Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forests (Biome 07), one species (Blyth's Kingfisher) restricted to the Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forests (Biome 08) and one species (Jerdon's Bushchat) restricted to the Indo-Gangetic Plains (Biome 12). See Appendix 3 for details.

Other Globally Threatened Species






Mekong Freshwater Stingray Dasyatis laosensis


Giant Catfish Pangasianodon gigas


Threats to Biodiversity

One of the most immediate threats to biodiversity at the IBA is dynamite blasting of rock cliffs and dredging of the main Mekong channel to improve access to southern China for larger container vessels. Urban development, including community expansion, construction of resorts and recreation areas, and drainage and filling in of wetlands for conversion to construction areas, is another major threat. Other threats to biodiversity at the site include over-fishing, hunting (including egg collection) and disturbance to sandbar-nesting birds.

Literature and Data Sources

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.

Office of Environmental Policy and Planning (1999) Directory of internationally important wetlands in Thailand. Bangkok: Office of Environmental Policy and Planning. (In Thai.)

Ounekham, K. and Inthapatha, S. (2003) Important bird areas in Lao P.D.R. Vientiane: Department of Forestry, BirdLife International in Indochina and the Wildlife Conservation Society Lao Program.

Ramsar Bureau website http//:

Directory of Important Bird Areas in the Kingdom of Thailand

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