31 Species Just Received Protection From the UN

Over the weekend, the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP11) concluded in Quito, Ecuador, and conservationists from around the world extended protection to dozens of migratory species including birds, fish and mammals after a week of “intense negotiations.”

“The Conference in Quito has generated an unprecedented level of attention for the Convention,” said Bradnee Chambers, the Convention’s Executive Secretary, “Like never before in the 35-year history of CMS, migratory animals have become the global flagships for many of the pressing issues of our time. From plastic pollution in our oceans, to the effects of climate change, to poaching and over exploitation, the threats migratory animals face will eventually affect us all.”

In all, 31 new species were extended various levels of protection under the treaty, which works a little bit like CITES – an Appendix I listing bans hunting or killing endangered species by nations that participate in the agreement, while Appendix II will bring countries together to create stronger conservation plans.

Big winners this year were 21 species of shark and ray species. With an estimated 100 million sharks being killed every year mostly for their fins, conservationists fear there’s no time to lose and tougher protections need to be put in place now to keep them from disappearing.

Now countries will begin working on conservation plans to protect six species of sharks and 15 species of rays including three species of thresher sharks, two hammerhead species and the silky shark, in addition to reef manta rays, nine species of devil rays and five sawfish species, who are among the most threatened species on earth.

Most notable on the list of migratory marine mammals were protections extended to polar bears under Appendix II, which conservationists are applauding as another important step for the survival of an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 left in the wild.

“What gives us hope is that this listing means that 120 countries are now recognizing the threats that polar bears face from the shrinking of their ice habitat to pollution and hunting. This is an important first step, but it must not be the last if we wish to save the polar bear,” said Dr. Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia & CIS, and polar bear expert.

The elusive Cuvier’s beaked whale, who is the world’s deepest diving whale found in oceans around the world, was also added to Appendix I, which will hopefully offer greater protection from threats including ship strikes and ocean noise. In an effort to keep our oceans healthy, resolutions were also passed concerning plastic and other debris, cetacean culture and boat-based wildlife watching.

Even better for marine mammals, according to Whale and Dolphin Conservation, is a resolution brought by Monaco that will encourage nations to end the capture of whales and dolphins from the wild for commercial use/public display in aquariums and theme parks, in addition to urging them to stop imports and international transit of live whales and dolphins for commercial purposes.

According to a statement, three Species Action Plans were approved for the Argali Sheep in Central Asia, the Pacific Loggerhead Turtle and the Saker Falcon. The Saker Falcon ranges from Eastern Europe to Western China and is already listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and on Appendix II of CITES, due in large part to trapping for the falconry trade, a loss of habitat and poisoning.

For bird species, the Semipalmated Sandpiper, the Great Knot, the European Roller and the Great Bustard were listed on Appendix I, while the Canada Warbler has been confirmed for Appendix II. The semipalmated sandpiper is a tiny shorebird who is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List and continue to face threats from hunting, habitat loss and pollution in areas they use when migrating.

A regional initiative covering large migratory mammals in Central Asia, including the Bactrian Camel, Snow Leopard and the Saiga Antelope, was also launched together with an accompanying publication called “Central Asian Mammals Initiative: Saving the Last Migrations.” The red-fronted gazelle will benefit from full protection, while international cooperation was recommended for the White-eared Kob.

The Saiga antelope once created a spectacle in mass numbers, but their population has dwindled as a result of unsustainable hunting and poaching for their horns. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, their numbers in the wild have dropped from over 1,000,000 in the early 1990s to fewer than 50,000 today.

For the first time in the history of the convention, members also looked at the threat posed by renewable energy technologies to bats, birds and cetaceans and guidelines were adopted on how things like wind turbines, solar panels, dams and other forms of renewable energy developments can be used in wildlife-friendly ways.

“The unprecedented representation of the world’s nations at this CMS Conference reflects the growing awareness that the responsibility for protecting wildlife is a shared one, and that the threats to wildlife can be tackled most effectively through global cooperation, ” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Jennifer Hayes
Jennifer H3 years ago

It looks like more countries are taking the climate and species protection seriously. It's about time.

Angela K.
Angela K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Mandy H.
Mandy H3 years ago

Great news! It's nice to know that people are taking conservation seriously. That organisation has one hell of a long name!

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G3 years ago

good news !

Loretta Pienaar

Encouraging. Let's keep up doing the best we can.

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago


Connie Palladini
Connie Palladini3 years ago


Rhonda B.
Rhonda B3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.3 years ago

This is good news, but it would be better if they hadn't to do it in the first place.