NAIROBI, Feb 13 (Swara) — The first-ever State of the World’s Migratory Species report, launched this week at a major UN wildlife conservation conference, reveals alarming trends in the populations of these creatures, with nearly half experiencing declines, according to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), a UN biodiversity treaty.

The landmark report, unveiled in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on February 12, highlights the following key findings:

  • Approximately 44 per cent of migratory species listed under CMS face population declines.
  • Over one in five (22 per cent) of CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction.
  • Alarmingly, 97 per cent of CMS-listed fish species are at risk of extinction.
  • The extinction risk is growing for migratory species globally, even those not listed under CMS.
  • Half (51%) of Key Biodiversity Areas identified as vital for CMS-listed migratory animals lack protected status.
  • Moreover, 58 per cent of the monitored sites recognized as crucial for CMS-listed species face unsustainable levels of human-caused pressure.

Overexploitation and habitat loss due to human activity pose the greatest threats to CMS-listed and all migratory species.

The report notes that climate change, pollution, and invasive species also significantly impact migratory species. It identifies 399 migratory species threatened or near threatened with extinction that are not currently listed under CMS.

Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme emphasized the urgency of addressing these threats.

“The global community has an opportunity to translate this latest science of the pressures facing migratory species into concrete conservation action,” she said. “Given the precarious situation of many of these animals, we cannot afford to delay and must work together to make the recommendations a reality.”

Migratory species, which include billions of animals crossing national boundaries each year, are essential for maintaining ecosystems worldwide. They provide crucial services such as pollination, nutrient transport, pest control, and carbon storage.

Prepared by conservation scientists at the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the report focuses on 1,189 animal species recognized by CMS Parties as needing international protection. However, it also analyzes over 3,000 additional non-CMS migratory species.

While some positive trends have been observed among CMS-listed species, the report underscores the need for greater action to protect all migratory species. Over the past three decades, 70 CMS-listed migratory species, including the steppe eagle and the Egyptian vulture, have become more endangered. Only 14 listed species have shown improved conservation status, including blue and humpback whales.

The report highlights the dire situation of migratory fish species, with populations declining by 90 per cent since the 1970s. Overexploitation and habitat loss due to human activities are identified as the primary drivers of these declines.

Addressing the decline of migratory species requires collaborative action across governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders. With the global ecosystem at stake, urgent measures are needed to safeguard the future of these vital creatures.