The UN warns of the "shocking" disappearance of migratory animal species in the world

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), a United Nations biodiversity treaty, presented this Monday, February 12, its first major report on the state of the world's migratory species and its conclusions are more How eloquent: the deterioration of populations and loss (in some cases) extinction of these species is "shocking.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 February 2024 Sunday 15:28
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The UN warns of the "shocking" disappearance of migratory animal species in the world

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), a United Nations biodiversity treaty, presented this Monday, February 12, its first major report on the state of the world's migratory species and its conclusions are more How eloquent: the deterioration of populations and loss (in some cases) extinction of these species is "shocking."

The UN summarizes the results of this work in the following sections:

- While some CMS-listed migratory species are improving, almost half (44 percent) are showing population decline.

- More than one in five (22 percent) of CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction.

- Almost all (97 percent) of CMS-listed fish are threatened with extinction.

- The risk of extinction is increasing for migratory species globally, including those not listed by CMS.

Half (51 percent) of Key Biodiversity Areas identified as important for CMS-listed migratory animals do not have protected status, and 58 percent of monitored sites recognized as important for CMS-listed species CMS are experiencing unsustainable levels of human-caused pollution. pressure, this report endorsed by the UN also highlights.

The two biggest threats to both CMS-listed species and all migratory species are overexploitation and habitat loss due to human activity. Three in four CMS-listed species are affected by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, and seven in ten CMS-listed species are affected by overexploitation (including intentional take and bycatch).

Climate change, pollution, and invasive species are also having profound impacts on migratory species. Globally, 399 migratory species that are threatened or near-threatened with extinction are currently not listed by CMS.

Until now, such a comprehensive assessment of migratory species has not been carried out. The report provides a global view of the conservation status and population trends of migratory animals, combined with the latest information on their main threats and successful actions to save them.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said: “Today's report clearly shows us that unsustainable human activities are endangering the future of migratory species, creatures that not only act as indicators of the environmental change but play an integral role in maintaining the function and resilience of our planet's complex ecosystems. The global community has the opportunity to translate this latest science on the pressures facing migratory species into concrete conservation actions. Given the precarious situation of many of these animals, we cannot afford to delay and must work together to make the recommendations a reality.”

Billions of animals make migratory journeys each year over land, rivers, oceans and skies, crossing national borders and continents, and some travel thousands of kilometers around the world to feed and reproduce.

Migratory species play an essential role in maintaining the world's ecosystems and provide vital benefits by pollinating plants, transporting key nutrients, hunting pests and helping to store carbon.

Prepared for CMS by conservation scientists at the United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC), the CMS State of the World's Migratory Species report uses the of species in the world and features contributions from experts from institutions such as BirdLife International, the Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The main focus of the report is the 1,189 animal species that have been recognized by CMS Parties as in need of international protection and are included on the CMS list, although it also presents analyzes linked to more than 3,000 additional non-CMS migratory species. the CMS.

Species included in the Convention are those at risk of extinction throughout all or a large part of their range, or that require coordinated international action to improve their conservation status.

Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of CMS, said: “Migratory species depend on a variety of specific habitats at different times in their life cycles. They travel regularly, sometimes thousands of kilometers, to reach these places. They face enormous challenges and threats along the way, as well as at their breeding or feeding destinations. When species cross national borders, their survival depends on the efforts of all the countries in which they are found. “This landmark report will help support much-needed policy action to ensure migratory species continue to thrive around the world.”

While there have been positive trends for numerous CMS species, the report's findings underscore the need for greater action for all migratory species. The inclusion of species in the CMS means that these species require international cooperation to address their conservation. But many of the threats these species face are global drivers of environmental change, affecting both biodiversity loss and climate change. Addressing the decline of migratory species therefore requires action by governments, the private sector and other actors.

Over the past 30 years, 70 CMS-listed migratory species – including the steppe eagle, Egyptian vulture and wild camel – have become more threatened. This contrasts with only 14 listed species that now have improved conservation status: these include blue and humpback whales, white-tailed sea eagle and black-faced spoonbill.

Most worryingly, almost all CMS-listed fish species – including sharks, rays and migratory sturgeon – face a high risk of extinction, and their populations have declined by 90 percent since the 1970s.

By analyzing threats to species, the report shows the extent to which the decline in migratory species is due to human activities.

The two biggest threats to CMS-listed species and all migratory species were confirmed to be overexploitation (including unsustainable hunting, overfishing and non-target capture, such as in fisheries) and habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation (due to activities such as agriculture). and the expansion of transportation and energy infrastructure.

A key priority is to map and take appropriate measures to protect vital sites that serve as breeding, feeding and stopover sites for migratory species. The report shows that almost 10,000 of the world's Key Biodiversity Areas are important for CMS-listed migratory species, but that more than half (by area) are not designated as protected or conserved areas. Fifty-eight percent of monitored sites important for CMS-listed species are threatened due to human activities.

The report also investigated how many migratory species are at risk but not covered by the Convention. It found that 399 migratory species (mainly birds and fish, including many albatrosses and perching birds, land sharks and rays) are classified as threatened or near threatened, but are not yet listed by CMS.

While highlighting the worrying situation of many species, the report also shows that recovery of the population and the entire species is possible and highlights cases of successful policy changes and positive actions, from local to international. Examples include coordinated local action that has reduced the use of illegal bird netting by 91 percent in Cyprus, and hugely successful integrated conservation and restoration work in Kazakhstan, which has saved the Saiga antelope from the brink of extinction. .

The report on the state of the world's migratory species issues a clear wake-up call and provides a set of priority recommendations for action, including:

Strengthen and expand efforts to address illegal and unsustainable take of migratory species, as well as bycatch of non-target species.

Increase actions to identify, protect, connect and effectively manage important sites for migratory species.

Urgently address those species most at risk of extinction, including almost all CMS-listed fish species,

Intensify efforts to address climate change, as well as light, noise, chemical and plastic pollution, and,

Consider expanding the CMS lists to include more at-risk migratory species in need of national and international attention.

The United Nations Conference on Wildlife Conservation (CMS COP14), taking place from 12 to 17 February in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, is one of the largest global biodiversity meetings since the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework Kunming-Montreal (Biodiversity Plan). It will also be the first COP of any global environmental treaty to take place in Central Asia, a region that is home to many migratory species, including the saiga antelope, snow leopard and many species of migratory birds. Governments, wildlife organizations and scientists came together at the week-long meeting to consider actions to advance implementation of the Convention. The State of the World's Migratory Species report will provide the scientific basis along with policy recommendations to set the context and provide valuable information to support the meeting's deliberations.