Convention of Migratory Species: Chimpanzees among 33 breeds selected for special protection

BBC 28 Oct 17;

Species like Chimpanzees seeing large reductions in numbers, there are now 50% less than three generations ago
A UN-backed wildlife conference held in the Philippines has voted for additional protections for a list of 33 endangered species including chimpanzees, leopards and giraffes.

Whale sharks, the world's largest fish, were also included on the list.

The six-day long Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) concluded on Saturday, demanding better protections for species that cross country borders.

The groups executive secretary said "everybody has to pitch in" to efforts.

"It has helped to convey the message that the future of migratory wildlife is integral to our own future and that we all have the responsibility to act," Bradney Chamber said.

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

More than 1,000 delegates from 129 countries debated species' protection at the 12th conference of its kind, backed by the United Nations Environment Programme.

China is still not part of the delegation, but organisers said the country had made some advances on animal protection, such as committing to shut-down the ivory trade and banning the serving of endangered species, such as shark fin soup, at government events.

Hosts the Philippines lobbied for the inclusion of whale sharks, which have become a tourist attraction for the nation. Three other shark breeds were also included in the list.

Ten species of vultures were also singled out for special protection, alongside well-known African mammals deemed to be in danger.

Giraffes are on decline on the continent, with only 90,000 thought to be left in the wild.

Lesser-known species were also singled out for protection - including the Gobi Bear found in the Gobi desert in Mongolia and China. Organisers said only 45 of them remain in the wild.

Lions, whale sharks, other endangered species get more protection
Philippine Daily Inquirer 30 Oct 17;

ENDANGERED Lion cubs Sarah and Benjamin are shown at a circus in Stuttgart, Germany. The endangered animals are among 34 selected to receive heightened protection at the meeting of the Conservation of Migratory Species in Manila. —AFP

Lions, chimpanzees, giraffes, leopards and a wide variety of sharks, including the whale shark, received added protection at a UN wildlife conference in the Philippines, organizers said on Saturday.

Some 34 endangered species were selected to receive heightened conservation efforts at the 12th conference of state parties to the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) that just concluded in Manila.

Protecting migratory species poses particular difficulties since they cross borders, including possibly moving to countries with less stringent wildlife protection systems, said Bradnee Chambers, CMS executive secretary.

“If the species is moving around all of these countries, everybody has to pitch in,” he said at the end of the weeklong conference.

Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau said migratory animals played a critical role in the planet’s ecosystem.

‘Inspiration for people’

“They act as pollinators, control pests and are a source of food and income. They are also an inspiration for people here in the Philippines and all around the world,” Lim said.

Lions, leopards and chimpanzees were singled out as needing more conservation work. The chimpanzee in particular is at risk as its numbers have dropped sharply in recent years due to habitat loss, the organizers said.

The giraffe, which is in decline throughout Africa with fewer than 90,000 animals left in the wild, was also listed.

All four of these African mammals were approved by a “wide majority” for additional protection measures, a CMS statement noted.

“Everybody in this room can identify with these animals,” Chambers remarked.

Vultures, sharks

Less popular species also received additional protection, including 10 species of vultures.

Chambers said these birds provided a vital service by cleaning out carcasses, which prevents the spread of diseases like anthrax and rabies.

Also listed was the whale shark, the largest fish in the world. The Philippines had lobbied for this creature, which had become a major tourist attraction.

Three other shark species—the angel shark, dusky shark and blue shark—were also listed along with three species of rays, the organizers said.

The Pew Charitable Trusts praised the CMS action, saying it was crucial to save these marine animals.

“In some regions, the newly protected shark species have experienced population declines of 50 percent or more,” Pew shark conservation expert KerriLynn Miller said in a statement.

Also listed was the Gobi bear, which lives in the wild regions shared by Mongolia and China. Only 45 specimens remain in the wild, the organizers said.

Compliance review

One of the breakthroughs of the meeting was the adoption of a “compliance review mechanism,” to check if member countries respect the protective lists, the organizers said.

The conference also saw agreements to create an intergovernment task force to curb the illegal killings of birds crossing the East Asian-Australasian Flyway; a conservation road map for the critically endangered African wild ass; and guidelines on assessing impact of marine noise activities

Also adopted by the convention’s 124 state-parties during the weeklong conference was the Manila Declaration on Sustainable Development and Migratory Species, and the Philippine proposals for resolutions on Marine Protected Area Networks in Southeast Asia, sustainable tourism, and the conservation of critical intertidal and coastal habitats for migratory species.

A Pew international conservation expert, Max Bello, said that even though the CMS lists did not provide for sanctions, many member countries still complied with them.

“It does work. It needs more [authority] for sure. But you can use it. It’s actually a very good tool,” Bello said.

“A year or two ago, I was helping some group in Peru in the coast of the South Pacific and we used CMS to convince the government of Peru to protect the giant mantas that come from Ecuador every year,” he recalled.

More than 120 states are party to the CMS, but this does not include China and many other Asian countries.—REPORTS FROM AFP AND JAYMEE T. GAMIL