Wildlife & Biodiversity

Everything that happened at CMS COP14

New initiatives to address threats of zoonotic diseases, protecting natural areas for migratory species introduced at summit

By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Tuesday 20 February 2024
Sand tiger sharks have been included in CMS Appendices. Photo: iStock

The 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP14) concluded with a range of decisions, including the addition of 14 species receiving added protection for conservation. The COP14 — first to happen in Central Asia — concluded in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. 

Some of the species included in the CMS Appendices were Eurasian lynx, sand tiger shark, Pallas’s cat, magellanic plover, among others. The summit also gave added safeguard to species such as blue shark, chimpanzee and straw-coloured fruit bat through New Concerted Actions adopted by range states (states whose territory is within the natural range of distribution of a species). 

The adoption enables priority conservation for the species. 

The State of Migratory Species Report 2024 identified 399 species that could be listed in either the Appendices of the CMS-listed species. 

Read more: CMS COP14: Action plans for African-Eurasian migratory landbirds, other avian species adopted

The Parties also extended ongoing efforts to safeguard species already included in concerted actions, such as the giraffe, antipodean albatross, Atlantic humpback dolphin and others. 

After two decades of efforts, the COP14 played a key role in giving recognition to the Central Asian Flyway for migratory birds that stretches from Siberia all the way to the Maldives. It also tabled a new science-based strategic plan for migratory species extending from 2024 to 2032. 

Observing the insect decline and its potential threats to migratory insectivorous animals, the COP14 also endorsed a new scientific report on the same. 

For migratory aquatic species, it introduced a new mandate on understanding the impacts on migratory species, their prey and ecosystems due to deep-seabed mining. The meeting of the Parties also saw the strengthening of the mandate to take bycatch and aquatic wild meat. The bycatch and illegal taking of meat is a major concern for small cetaceans such as dolphins, sharks, marine turtles and seabirds.

The meeting discussed the use of fish aggregating devices and their negative impacts, as well as the use of technology to protect marine animals. The report published on February 12, State of Migratory Species, revealed that 97 per cent of the marine species listed under CMS are threatened with extinction. 

The COP also introduced three action plans for aquatic species, such as Hawksbill turtle, threatened with exploitation for their use and trade. It also had new plans for Angelshark, which has seen a steady decline in 50 years and become “exceedingly rare” in its historical range.

Read more: CMS COP14: Expect listing of new species, action plans for conservation at Samarkand summit

Action plans for Atlantic humpback dolphin were also adopted. New resolutions on risks of vessel strikes on marine megafauna, such as whale sharks, were also presented at the summit. 

In case of terrestrial species, new species specific ranges were table such as the transboundary jaguar initiative and the Sahelo-Saharan megafauna, based on the successful initiatives under the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative. Action Plans for critically endangered migratory species such as dama gazelle and addax were also included. 

Uzbekistan also announced plans to introduce cheetahs in the country. 

To address the destruction, degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats among wild life, the COP14 took an initiative — Global Partnership on Ecological Connectivity (GPEC) — to “protect and connect natural areas” to ensure that key areas of migratory species are identified, protected and connected. 

The goal of the GPEC will be to ensure that ecological connectivity is maintained, enhanced, and restored in places of importance for migratory species of wild animals, a press statement from CMS stated. 

The migratory species require specific sites and habitat during their lifecycle and seasonal changes. Though such sites are known, it is imperative for the species to access these sites, which are often across national boundaries and hindered with infrastructure development such as roads, railways and fences.

The movement of migratory species is crucial for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, nutrient circulation, land restoration and other ecosystem services provided by them. 

To address the concerns about zoonotic diseases — diseases transmissible to humans from animal contact — from the COP14, under the leadership of International Union for Conservation of Nature, saw the launch of One Health Central Asia project. 

Read more: DTE Coverage: CMS COP14 Samarkand

It noted that the risks for potential zoonotic diseases in Central Asia are worsening due to biodiversity loss and behavioural changes in human-animal interactions. To prevent the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases, the five central Asian countries — Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — would implement actions for the same.

“Over the past few years, we have observed how the spread of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 can have a global impact. This has resulted in entire countries being demobilised, transportation connections being disrupted, an increase in food security issues, and massive socio-economic consequences,” said Aziz Abdukhakimov, minister of ecology, environmental protection and climate change of Uzbekistan, in a press statement. 

The CMS COP14 also saw new guidelines presented for mitigating the impacts of light pollution on migratory species. It also strengthened measures for illegal and unsustainable killing of migratory species and resolutions and endorsements on climate change and its effects on migratory wildlife. 

“COP14 in Samarkand represents a milestone. The ambitious goals set at COP14, coupled with the new Samarkand Strategic Plan for Migratory Species, offers us a clear roadmap for action,” said Amy Fraenkel, CMS executive secretary, in the press statement.

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