Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals Meet

The Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP12) took place in Manila, the Philippines from 23 to 28 October 2017 under the theme ‘Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife & People’.

World governments attending this year’s largest wildlife summit have collectively endorsed actions on the conservation of a wide range of migratory species, many of which are near-extinct.

The week-long CMS COP12 ended in Manila with decisions on 34 species in submissions made by 24 Parties from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Oceania. These include actions on Africa’s great carnivores, 10 species of vulture, and the endangered Whale Shark, known as the butanding in the Philippines.

Governments also agreed to cooperate on reducing the negative impacts of marine debris, noise pollution, renewable energy and climate change on migratory species.

The CMS COP12 in Manila has been the largest-ever meeting in the 38-year history of the Convention, which is also known as the “Bonn Convention” after the German city in which it was signed.

COP12 saw some notable outcomes, including:

All fish proposals being endorsed, which means three species of shark and three species of ray will receive greater protection with the Whale Shark on Appendix I and the Angelshark being listed on both Appendices. The Dusky Shark, the Blue Shark, the Common Guitarfish and the White-spotted Wedgefish are listed on Appendix II.

All avian species proposals have also been approved for addition to CMS Appendices. On Appendix I are the Steppe Eagle; four species of Asian Vulture, five Sub-Saharan Vulture Species, the Lappet-faced Vulture and the Christmas Frigatebird. A subspecies of the Black Noddy, the Yellow Bunting and the Lesser and Great Grey Shrike are now listed on Appendix II.

For the first time, the Giraffe will receive protection under an international treaty with a listing on CMS Appendix II. Although populations in many Southern African countries are thriving, they are in overall decline across Africa with less than 90,000 animals remaining in the wild.

The Leopard and Lion will also be listed on CMS Appendix II, paving the way for a joint initiative on protecting Africa’s great carnivores. The African Carnivores Initiative will become a focal point for the implementation of resolutions and decisions on lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs under CMS and CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The Chimpanzee is now listed on both CMS Appendices. Humans’ closest relative is facing a 50 per cent drop in numbers over three generations and rapid habitat loss, especially in the western and eastern parts of its historic range.

The near-extinct Gobi Bear is included on Appendix I. Only 45 individuals of the Gobi subspecies of the Brown Bear remain in the wild, shared between Mongolia and China.
The Caspian Seal is included on both CMS Appendices. It is the only marine mammal found in the world’s largest inland sea, where its migration is prompted by ice formation and foraging.

Other mammals that will benefit from the additional protection include the African Wild Ass – the most endangered wild equid in the world, Przewalski’s Horse and four species of Lasiurus Bat. The proposal to add the Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) was withdrawn.

Unusually for a CMS COP, consensus was not reached on four species proposals, which went to a vote. Listing of the Chimpanzee, Giraffe, Leopard and Lion was approved by a wide majority at the Committee stage.

In total,12 mammals were afforded greater protection under CMS, 16 birds and 6 species of fish. Listing on Appendix I requires governments of Parties to protect the species while Appendix II calls for international cooperation to ensure that the conservation status of a species is favourable.

Other successes, which will benefit many of the newly-listed species include:

Consensus on a new intergovernmental task force to curb the illegal killing of birds crossing the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, which spans 22 countries;

A Conservation Roadmap for the critically endangered African Wild Ass, with fewer than 70 animals remaining in the wild;

A Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan to better protect 15 species of Old World Vulture in more than 120 countries;

CMS guidelines on assessing impacts of marine noise activities;
Expanding the Convention’s work on preventing the poisoning of birds with a particular focus on the effects of lead; and

Action on aquatic wild meat, which is fast becoming a conservation problem on a scale similar to that of terrestrial bushmeat.

CMS COP12 also saw five new Migratory Species Champions – commended for their outstanding commitment and long-term conservation efforts. These were:

The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi – recognized for the Conservation of Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia for the period 2015-2019 and the conservation of Dugongs and their Habitats for the period 2015-2019;

The European Commission – for its efforts in addressing Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean in 2018-2020;

The Government of Federal Republic of Germany – for Reconciling Energy Sector Developments with Migratory Species Conservation in 2018-2020;

The Principality of Monaco – for its commitment to Marine Species Conservation 2018-2020; and

The Government of the Philippines for its efforts to protect the Whale Shark.

The resulting Manila Declaration on Sustainable Development and Migratory Species, which emphasizes the links between the conservation of wildlife and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals was unanimously adopted by Parties.