The Mergui Archipelago lies off the far south coast of Myanmar. It’s comprised of hundreds of islands, which have coral reefs and beaches. The Mergui is home to the seafaring indigenous Moken people. It’s a heaven for birds, notably the plain-pouched hornbill, as well as marine life like dugongs and turtles.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Designate
While the biodiversity is largely unknown, the intact vegetation on such an array of islands, with associated marine habitats and spectacular geomorphology, is likely to be of high global biodiversity significance. The biodiversity values of this set of forested continental islands, and the limited protection afforded such coastal islands elsewhere in the region, indicates that they are likely to be of global priority and form a potentially important trans-boundary World Heritage inscription.
The Nomadic Moken Seafarers
The Austronesian people of the Mergui Archipelago, living a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle heavily based on the sea. Their knowledge of the sea enables them to live off its fauna and flora by using simple tools such as nets and spears to forage for food. What is not consumed is dried on top of their boats, then used as barter for other necessities at local markets. During the monsoon season, they relocate to dry-land into temporary huts and use this time to build additional boats. Normally they live in small hand-crafted wooden boats which serve not just as transportation, but also as kitchen, bedroom, and living area. Aside from ancestor worship, the Moken have no religion.
The Legend of Pila Island
A great mythological flood broke the islands into 800 mostly uninhabited, limestone and granite islands. Pila Island is one of the islands created from this legend. Pila is southwest of Great Swinton Islands and Pulo Pankyup and west of Rocky Islet. Pila Island has an elevation of 29 meters. Destinations nearby to Pila Island include Rocky Islet and Pulo Set.