Wildlife & Biodiversity

Central Asian Flyway recognised to protect over 600 migratory bird species

The flyway covers countries ranging from Russian Siberia to the Maldives

By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Saturday 17 February 2024
Many migratory birds on the Central Asian Flyway are culturally important for the people who live along the route. For instance, eagles are totems of Steppe peoples ranging from the Mongols to the Turkmen. Here, a Kazakh falconer holds a golden eagle on his arm. Photo: iStock

The Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP 14) adopted the Initiative for the Central Asian Flyway introduced by India on February 17, 2024.

Led by India, the proposal was supported by conservation non-profit BirdLife International and 30 other governments from Russian Siberia to the Maldives. It committed to establish an initiative for the Central Asian Flyway under the CMS.

The aim of the initiative is to restore and maintain favourable conservation status of migratory species populations and assisting their ecological connectivity in the flyway.

BirdLife, in its statement, said:

Unfortunately, populations of over 240 species of migratory birds are in decline in the Central Asian Flyway, with 48 species listed as Globally Threatened or Near Threatened. Several migratory birds in this flyway are also culturally important to the communities that have co-existed with them for hundreds of years — the White Stork in Uzbekistan, the Black-Necked Crane in Bhutan and the Steppe Eagle in Kazakhstan.

The Central Asian Flyway consists of the following countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory), Uzbekistan and Yemen.

In a statement made during the COP14, Raghu Prasad, Inspector General of Forests, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India said, “The Initiative for the Central Asian Flyway will act as a platform for capacity building, knowledge sharing, research and coordination among all range countries and will pave the way to conserve the populations of the 600+ species of migratory birds that use this flyway.”

BirdLife addressed key threats faced by migratory birds such as severe habitat loss, overexploitation and illegal killing. Other threats making these migratory species vulnerable are “rapid development of energy infrastructure”, causing collisions and electrocutions.

The initiative will work to develop and enforce a Programme of Work aligning with the resolutions, decisions and plans agreed by the CMS.

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