Rome/Bonn, 28 November 2008 - Whether they are speeding across the African savannah or navigating brackish waters in Asia, some of the world's most charismatic species need an urgent boost in international protection.
Over 100 governments meeting next week for the ninth conference of the parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) will consider proposals to strengthen conservation of close to 30 endangered land and marine animals that often cross international borders, by placing them on the Convention's appendices.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which administers the CMS, said: "Species that migrate across countries and continents are facing ever greater hurdles from loss of habitat and feeding grounds to unsustainable use and the unfolding and often complex threats emerging from climate change."
"Indeed the world is currently facing a sixth wave of extinctions mainly as a result of human impacts. Urgent and accelerated action is needed to ensure that a healthy, productive and functioning planet is handed on to the next generation," he added.
"The Convention on Migratory Species is an important part of our international cooperative response to such challenges. It reflects the shared responsibility of nations for these species as each year they attempt their epic journeys across continents and oceans".
Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary of UNEP-CMS, added: "Many migratory species are now important parts of the local and international economy generating income and supporting livelihoods via industries such as tourism. For example an estimated 150,000 people visit the Serengeti annually in order to see its famous wildlife. Based on 2003 figures, the park generates income of $ 5.5 million from tourists".
"Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, is home to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats which flock in the evening to feed. The spectacle attracts between 200 and 1,500 people daily and annually puts millions of dollars into the local economy. This underlines that migratory species are part of the world's natural assets and have their role in realizing a Green Economy," he added.