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State of the World’s Migratory Species Report released at CMS COP14 in Uzbekistan

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One in five of world's migratory species at risk of extinction - UN reportOn February 12, 2024, the  first-ever ‘State of the World’s Migratory Species‘ report was launched at the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP14), also known as Bonn Convention in Samarkand, Uzbekistan from February 12-17, 2024.

  • The CMS COP14 is convened under the slogan, “Nature knows no borders”.
  • It is also the first COP of any global environmental treaty to take place in Central Asia.

Who prepared the report?

It is prepared by the conservation scientists in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and CMS.

  • It utilizes species datasets worldwide and includes expert contributions from institutions such as BirdLife International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

What is in the report?

This report offers a global overview of migratory species conservation status, population trends, major threats, successful conservation efforts, and policy suggestions to inform and aid discussions at the meeting.

  • The report primarily focuses on 1,189 animal species listed under CMS for international protection.
  • It also includes analysis related to over 3,000 non-CMS migratory species.

Note: The listing of species under CMS means that these species require international cooperation to address their conservation.

Greatest Threats to Migratory Species, as per Report:

Human activities are the primary cause of the decline in migratory species. The following two are the greatest threats to both CMS-listed and all migratory species:

i.Overexploitation– This includes unsustainable hunting, overfishing and the capture of non-target animals such as in fisheries.

  • Overexploitation impacting 70% of the species on the UN list.
  • Seven out of ten CMS-listed species are impacted by overexploitation.

ii.Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation from activities such as agriculture and the expansion of transport and energy infrastructure.

  • Habitat loss affected up to 75% of the species.
  • Three out of four CMS-listed species suffer habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation.

Highlights from Report:

i.The threatened species include one in five species of migratory birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, and insects.

ii.Of the species covered by the UN’s CMS, 82% listed as being in danger of extinction are threatened with 76% experiencing population decline.

iii.44% of migratory species listed under CMS are experiencing population declines.

iv.22% of CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction.

v.97% of the 58 fish species listed faces extinction threats including migratory sharks, rays and sturgeons.

vi.51% of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) important for CMS-listed migratory animals lack protected status.

vii.58% of monitored sites vital for CMS-listed species are threatened by human activities viii.Nearly 61% of KBAs crucial for CMS-listed migratory species lack adequate protection.

ix.Globally, 399 threatened or near-threatened migratory species (mainly Birds & Fish) are not under CMS protection or approximately 18% of migratory species  not under CMS protection are globally threatened, with 42% showing population decline.

  • This emphasizes the need for broader conservation efforts.

Key Points:

i.Between 1988 and 2020, 70 CMS-listed migratory species, such as the steppe eagle and Egyptian vulture, have become endangered, while only 14 species have improved, including blue whales and white-tailed sea eagles.

ii.Of the 158 mammals listed under the convention, 40% are globally threatened.

iii.More than 960 species of birds are CMS-listed and 14% were assessed as threatened.

  • However, this still amounts to some 134 species.

iv.The report also found 399 migratory species including albatrosses, ground sharks and stingrays which are categorized as threatened or near-threatened but are not yet CMS-listed.

v.Climate change, pollution, invasive species, also pose significant threats to migratory species, leading to increasing extinction risks globally, including those not listed under CMS.

vi.Habitat fragmentation from dams poses a major threat to freshwater migratory fish, including in India. Just 37% of the world’s long rivers (>1,000 km) maintain high connectivity, with dams and artificial infrastructure affecting the rest.

vii.Migratory species are important for ecosystems, helping with pollination, nutrient transport, pest control, and carbon storage.

viii.Despite challenges, the report showcases successful conservation efforts, such as reducing illegal bird netting in Cyprus by 91% and restoring Saiga Antelope populations in Kazakhstan.


i.Strengthen enforcement against illegal harvesting of migratory species and unintended capture of non-target species.

ii.Expand initiatives to identify, safeguard, link, and properly manage critical sites for migratory species.

iii.Prioritize action for endangered species, especially CMS-listed fish species.

iv.Increase efforts to combat climate change, light, noise, chemical, and plastic pollution.

v.Consider widening CMS listings for additional at-risk migratory species.

What is CMS?

The CMS, a UN environmental treaty, unites nations and experts to conserve migratory species and their habitats globally. With 133 Contracting Parties since its inception in 1979, it addresses the needs of terrestrial, aquatic, and avian migratory species.

Recent Related News:

i.The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was held at the UN Headquarters in New York City, USA, from September 18 to September 26, 2023. The world leaders, Heads of State and Governments, foreign ministers, diplomats, and representatives from member states, often called as the ‘Oscars of Diplomacy‘, attended the annual high-level week.

ii.Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Climate Week 2023, took place from 8-12 October in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is the 2nd of four Regional Climate Weeks held in 2023 and the event hosted by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

About United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):
Executive Director– Inger Andersen
Headquarters– Nairobi, Kenya
Establishment- 1972
Members – 193 Member States