By Vishal Gulati
Migratory bird species are in danger of extinction globally. International cooperation is must. The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Secretariat in Bonn is working closely with India to conserve them, says its Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel.
In an online interview with IANS on World Migratory Bird Day that falls on Saturday, she said the migratory species that are in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range are listed on Appendix I of the Convention, while Appendix II lists migratory species with an unfavourable conservation status.
A variety of Appendix I avian species, which needs highest degree of protection, can be found in India.
Eagles such as the steppe eagle, Pallas’s fish-eagle, eastern imperial eagle, white-tailed sea-eagle, and the greater spotted eagle.
Other species include the Houbara bustard, Egyptian vulture, black-necked crane, lesser kestrel, great knot, sociable plover, ferruginous pochard, yellow-breasted bunting, marbled teal and Baer’s pochard.
Approximately one in five of the world’s 11,000 bird species migrate, some covering enormous distances, with the bar-tailed godwit, for instance, flying 11,680 kilometres between Alaska and New Zealand.
Fraenkel said at the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (COP13) held in Gandhinagar in February, the great Indian bustard and the Bengal florican were listed on CMS Appendix I, granting them the highest degree of protection under the Convention.
The little bustard was included in both CMS Appendices.
The CMS is the only United Nations treaty that addresses migratory species and their habitats.
Conserving migratory birds requires cooperation and coordination along the entire flyway between countries and across national boundaries. “Only by working together can we make sure they will survive and thrive,” she said.
To this end, the COP13 adopted decisions to prevent poisoning, phase out the use of lead ammunition and lead fishing weights.
The decisions also address illegal hunting, taking and trade of migratory birds in the East-Asian Australasian Flyway.
In addition, CMS Parties and partners are engaged in a CMS-led Energy Task Force which addresses such threats as collision with power lines.
Quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the opening of the CMS COP 13, she said he announced India’s intention to formally agree to take a lead in working with other governments to conserve migratory bird species and their habitats in the Central Asian Flyway (CAF), and the COP adopted a resolution calling for work to be furthered on the CAF.
“This is a very important flyway that needs attention from all of the 30 range states that it covers. The CMS Secretariat will be working closely with the government of India, and all of the range states, to support implementation of this key commitment,” she said.
Migratory birds require a chain of sites and appropriate habitats, such as wetlands, coastal areas, forests and grasslands to support them during their life cycle.
“Throughout their life cycles and migration ranges, migratory birds like other migratory animals depend on a functioning network of habitats across countries and continents to breed, feed and rest.
“Ecological connectivity is the unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on earth. It is essential for the survival of migratory species,” she said.
The loss and fragmentation of habitat are among the key threats to migratory birds across the world. The loss and fragmentation of habitat are also considered to be the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide with climate change exacerbating these effects.
“The Gandhinagar Declaration, adopted at CMS COP13, affirms a commitment to maintaining and restoring ecological connectivity to ensure the long-term survival of migratory species, and calls for ecological connectivity to be included in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework currently under negotiation in the UN,” she said.
“Migratory birds connect us to nature and they connect us to one another. Their survival depends on each of us — on each country and each person along their migration path — taking action to conserve and restore the habitats and ecosystems that they need to survive,” added Fraenkel.
Increased global action through multilateral environment treaties such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) are essential to protect migratory birds on their international journeys.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])