Persistent threats fuel urgency to save migratory species

By Catherine Teves

October 28, 2017, 12:13 pm

MANILA -- An expert has raised the urgency for stronger international cooperation on conserving migratory species worldwide.

There must be better synergy on the matter as habitat destruction, pollution, live catching and other dangers continue to threaten the survival of these species, noted Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) Executive Secretary Dr. Bradnee Chambers.

"This is critical for species that migrate through international borders," he said at the CMS' 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) in Metro Manila.

Further raising public awareness on migratory species' benefits and the threats they face will complement the international cooperation that countries are doing through CMS, Chambers said.

With increased public awareness and understanding of the matter, he said there's more potential for people to help conserve migratory species.

Migratory species are animals that cyclically and predictably cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries in response to seasons, availability of food or need to reproduce, said the Philippines' Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).

"Animal migration can be found in all major animal groups," BMB added.

Experts cited food, pollination and pest control as among migratory species' benefits.

Such species also have potential as medicinal sources and eco-tourism draws, they said.

Countries must elevate conservation efforts through CMS to continue benefiting from services that migratory species provide, Dr. Chambers said.

CMS is an inter-governmental treaty under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) that provides the global platform for conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.

Parties to CMS have agreed to protect and conserve migratory species, particularly those at high risk of extinction.

"We have a great deal to do before saying migratory species are thriving," said Chambers, adding that he has not yet seen the return of some organisms' population.

“Their future is our future -- sustainable development for wildlife and people” is the CMS COP 12's theme and highlights the link between migratory species' conservation and sustainable development.

The COP 12, CMS' first in Asia, began last October 23.

The Philippines is seeking international collaboration on better protection for two migratory birds under threat that pass through this country while traveling along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

The population of the Christmas Island frigatebird (scientific name 'Fregata andrewsi') and Yellow bunting (scientific name 'Emberiza sulphurata') is declining due to habitat loss and other factors, said chief science research specialist Dr. Simplicia Pasicolan of the Philippine environment department's Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.

Both birds are among migratory species the Philippines has proposed for inclusion in CMS' appendices to boost their protection, she noted.

Pasicolan said the Philippines aims to collaborate with Australia as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other range countries where substantial numbers of Christmas Island frigatebird occur.

She noted the Philippines also aims to collaborate with Japan on a concerted action plan to protect the Yellow bunting.

Yellow buntings breed in Japan and winter mainly in the Philippines, she said.

The Christmas Island frigatebird and Yellow bunting are already considered critically endangered and vulnerable, respectively, under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

IUCN's Red List is recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. (PNA)