From African elephants searching for water to turtles crossing seas to nest to albatrosses searching for food across oceans, the world’s migratory species are under threat across the planet, a landmark report finds published Monday.
The first-ever assessment of the status of the world’s migratory species, which focuses on the 1,189 species covered by the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, found that one in five species is threatened with extinction and 44% are seeing their populations decline. .
Humans are responsible, destroying or destroying habitats, hunting and polluting areas with plastics, chemicals, light and noise.
also threatens to interfere with migration routes and schedules, altering seasonal conditions.
“We are discovering that the migration phenomenon itself is under threat,” CMS director Amy Fraenkel told AFP, adding that the report should be “a wake-up call about what is happening.”
The report was released as more than 130 signatory countries – with the notable absence of the United States, China, Canada and Russia – gathered for a conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 12 to 17 FEBRUARY.
“These are species that move around the world. They move to feed and reproduce and also need stopover sites along the way,” the Associated Press quoted Kelly Malsch, lead author of the report, as saying. .
“Migration is essential for some species. If you reduce migration, you’re going to kill the species,” Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University who was not involved in the report, told the AP.
Migratory species often rely on highly specialized sites for feeding and mating, and their journeys between each other can cross international borders and even continents.
Iconic species that make some of the most extraordinary journeys across the planet include the monarch butterfly, humpback whale and loggerhead sea turtle.
“Today’s report demonstrates that unsustainable human activities are putting the future of migratory species at risk,” said Inger Andersen, director of the United Nations Environment Program.
Some factors causing the danger
Among the main threats are agriculture and fishing.
Agriculture can destroy habitat, Fraenkel said, while “bycatch” by fishing boats – when other fish or animals are ensnared by fishing gear – poses the greatest continuing threat to whales.
She added that although habitat destruction is considered the main risk to migratory animals, for some species the report reveals it is “intentional killing”, either for wild meat or sport, or because animals are considered pests.
“We have now identified a large gap that requires action,” she said.
The report, compiled by UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, reveals that over the past three decades, 70 CMS-listed species have become more threatened, including the steppe eagle, Egyptian vulture and camel. savage.
Only 14 of these now have an improved conservation status, including blue and humpback whales and white-tailed eagles.
Of the 158 mammals listed by the convention, 40% are threatened worldwide, according to the report.
Meanwhile, almost all — 97% — of the 58 listed fish species face a high risk of extinction, including migratory sharks, rays and sturgeons.
More than 960 bird species are listed in the CMS and, although only 14∞ have been assessed as threatened, the authors point out that there are still some 134 species remaining.
The report also reveals that 399 migratory species – including albatrosses, land sharks and stingrays – are classified as threatened or near threatened but are not yet listed by CMS.
The report, which is intended to feed into the Samarkand conference, focuses on the most endangered species, highlighting threats from fishing, agriculture and pollution.
They echo a landmark agreement on biodiversity reached in 2022, when countries agreed to preserve 30% of the planet’s lands and seas by 2030.
Many migratory species listed on the CMS provide economic value or useful “services” to humans – from tourism focused on whales, dolphins, elephants and cheetahs to pollination provided by birds and bats.
But Fraenkel said these species also connect communities around the world, their departures and arrivals marking the passing of seasons.
“They are truly magnificent creatures,” she said.
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