31 endangered species added to UN protection list

Quito : The 11th Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has ended in Quito with a decision to include 31 endangered species in its list, the executive secretary of the convention, Bradnee Chambers, said.

The convention, which falls under the aegis of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), began last week with the presence of around 700 delegates from 120 CMS member countries, and its outcome was described as “historic” by Chambers Sunday.

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Ecuadorean environment ministry technician Julia Cordero told Efe news agency that the species were divided into two CMS lists: appendix I, which included endangered animals, and appendix II, which added animals that are not necessarily threatened but still need some type of protection

Recent additions to the lists included the semipalmated sandpiper and warblers of Canada. The common hammerhead shark was added to appendix I and the giant hammerhead shark to appendix II.

Cordero said the purpose of the meeting was to promote the development of regional and global action plans to protect the ecosystems, habitats and breeding sites of animals at risk in order to prevent their possible extinction.

Rays, sawfish and polar bears were also listed for special attention.

According to Russian environmental specialist Masha Vorontsova, two-thirds of the polar bears living in the Arctic Circle might die off by 2050.

Vorontsova said in an interview with Efe that currently between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears were living in 19 colonies around the Arctic, but added that by the end of this century the number could fall drastically, according to estimations.

The experts also warned that loss of habitat, climate change and over-exploitation, among other factors, may result in the dramatic decline of migratory species.

The meeting sought ways for strengthening the conservation measures for migratory species due to increasing threats to their survival, such as crimes against fauna and marine debris.

Although at the beginning of the meeting, 32 species were proposed to be included in the lists, the African lion was not listed due to lack of conclusive studies about its situation and documents supporting the consensus of nations to protect them, CMS information officer Francisco Rilla said.