Conservation of Migratory Species – All India Radio (AIR) IAS UPSC

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  • March 3, 2020
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Conservation of Migratory Species


TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Environment and Conservation
  • Climate Change

Migratory species are those animals that move from one habitat to another during different times of the year, due to various factors such as food, sunlight, temperature, climate, etc. The movement between habitats, can sometimes exceed thousands of miles/kilometres for some migratory birds and mammals. A migratory route can involve nesting and also requires the availability of habitats before and after each migration.

In order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries, a Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), has been in force, under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme. Also referred to as the Bonn Convention (signed in 1979 in Germany), it provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

India is the host for three years for the Conservation of Migratory Species.

The week-long Conference under the Convention is set to focus on adopting actions to help reverse the decline of migratory species.

Enhancing ‘ecological connectivity’—the ability of geographical areas to support migratory species together—is the primary focus of the Conference. 

The UN Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity released in May 2019 (IPBES Report) showed that 

  • The world could witness a mass extinction of 1 million species, including migratory species if humanity does not alter its course.
  • Despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by CMS are declining

The Conference calls for international cooperation to protect migratory species and their habitats, which is reflected in its theme: Migratory species connect the planet – together we welcome them home.

The CMS lists the migratory species that are threatened with extinction. The member countries are obligated to protect the listed species throughout their range. Among the ten species to be added to this list during the Conference, there are three Indian species, viz., Asian Elephant, Bengal Florican, and the Great Indian Bustard. In addition to these, other species to be added to the protection list are Jaguar, Urial, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross, Oceanic White-tip Shark, Smooth Hammerhead Shark and Tope Shark.

  • Both Bengal Florican and Great Indian Bustard are critically endangered species as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. 
  • Asian Elephants, on the other hand, are categorised as endangered and have a total population of less than 50,000—more than half of whom live in India.

Throughout their annual migratory path or corridors, these species face numerous threats like –

  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Extreme weather events
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Landscape changes

India and CMS

2.4% of the world’s land area, India contributes about 8% of the known global biodiversity

We have been traditionally practicing the mantra of “Athithi Devo Bhava”, this has been reflected in the slogan theme for the CMS COP 13: “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home”

  • India will focus more towards conservation of Central Asian Flyway, which passes through India, that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory water bird species, including 29 globally threatened species. India has also launched the National Action Plan for conservation of migratory species under the Central Asian Flyway.
  • Creation of an institutional facility for undertaking research and assessment, capacity development and conservation initiatives by creating a common platform
  • Millions of people living near forest areas in the country will be co-opted into the formation of joint forest management committees and eco-development communities for the protection of forests and wildlife

India has been a Party to the Convention since 1983 and has signed non-legally binding MOU with CMS on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016).

Migratory species bring multiple benefits to humans. For example, migratory species provide seed dispersal, pollination, pest control and other ecosystem services and functions.  They also provide major economic benefits and jobs, for instance, through tourism.   

Connecting the Dots:

Which of the following Conventions aims to conserve terrestrial, Marine and Avian migratory species? 

a) Rotterdam Convention 

b) Bonn Convention 

c) Ramsar Convention 

d) Washington Convention

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