Wildlife & Biodiversity

Many protected migratory species declining: Report

73 per cent of Appendix I and 48 per cent of Appendix II species of the Convention on Migratory Species are diminishing, it says, with many being traded  

 
By Ishan Kukreti
Last Updated: Monday 17 February 2020
The vicuna, the Andean camelid species whose parts have been traded by India according to the report. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The population of many species protected under the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals’ (CMS) was on the decline despite being on the appendices of the Convention, a document has said. 

Titled Review of the conservation status of migratory species, the document read:

The analysis of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List Category for CMS-listed species shows that the conservation status of 87 per cent of species listed on Appendix I and 56 per cent of the species listed on Appendix II can be considered of global concern (Red List categories between ‘Extinct in the wild’ and ‘Near threatened’).

“The analyses of population trends of individual species indicate an overall decreasing trend for 73 per cent of Appendix I species (three out of four species) and 48 per cent for Appendix II,” the document added.

It was released at the 13th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the CMS, which is being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from February 15-22, 2020.

In fact, the CMS secretariat has created a report which analysed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) trade data from 2015-2018 and found that trade in Appendix I species of the CMS that shouldn’t be harvested from the wild, are being traded. 

Article III (5) of the Convention prohibits countries which are party, from taking Appendix I-listed species and defines a narrow set of exceptions to this obligation: if the taking is for scientific purposes, for the purpose of enhancing the propagation or survival of the affected species, to accommodate the needs of traditional subsistence users of such species or if extraordinary circumstances so require. 

“As presented in Table 1, the 2015-2018 CITES trade data indicate that CMS Parties have engaged in trade across a range of species that are included in CMS Appendix I, both as importers and exporters,” the document said.

“Traded goods range from ‘live’ animals, whole bodies of dead animals, body parts of dead animals (bones, carvings, trophies) or body parts taken from live animals (like vicuna hair),” it added. 

The analysis has found four instances in 2017 and 2018 where Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) parts were traded — either imported or exported — by India. The vicuna is a camelid species found in the high Andes and is a relative of the camel, the llama, the alpaca and the guanaco. 

In fact, there is a recommendation to be decided at the CoP to deal with this. 

“Parties that have not already done so, must develop and implement national legislation and enforcement measures prohibiting activities involving the import or export of Appendix I-listed species that violate the Convention and undermine its objectives, and to provide information to the Secretariat on import and export of Appendix-I species on a regular basis,” the recommendation says.

“Unlike CITES, CMS doesn't have any mechanism to ensure the implementation of the decisions. So even if the parties agree to something and then do nothing about it, or do something entirely opposite, CMS cannot ensure that that practice stops,” a wildlife researcher told Down to Earth

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