WILDLIFE EXPERTS WISH TO IMPROVE
CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY ANIMAL SPECIES
A hundred countries and many specialised NGOs meet in Cape Town, South Africa in November 1999.
Government experts from 100 countries and almost all international NGOs specialised in wildlife and ecosystem conservation will meet from 6-16 November 1999 in Somerset West near Cape Town, South Africa. They will, in the framework of the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS/Bonn Convention) review the progress made in the past three years in improving international cooperation for the conservation of migratory animal species and decide on a comprehensive work programme for the coming 5 years.
Under CMS many projects have been developed to strictly protect migratory species which are threatened by extinction and to improve the conservation of species which have an unfavourable conservation status. For example, the Siberian Crane is seriously endangered on its Central and Western Asian flyways. The increased coordination and cooperation among experts from all Range States, scientists and international organisations have, in recent years, achieved results which finally give hope that we can secure the survival of the species.
The approximately 30 species of bats which occur in Europe are another example: under a special agreement for European bats, many encouraging measures have been undertaken in the past 5 years. The cooperation of government and non-government experts throughout Europe has successfully raised public interest, stimulated conservation measures by the responsible state authorities and increased activities and enthusiastic contributions from specialised, non-governmental organisations.
A similar success story can be reported for the dolphins and small whales of the Baltic and North Seas: approximately 10,000 of these useful and attractive marine mammals are unfortunately killed annually by fishery activities (by-catch), in addition to the unknown number of animals which are killed by marine pollution or other human activities. For the first time ever a comprehensive survey has been conducted and intensive research is being carried out to improve the fishing methods to avoid by-catches in the future.
Antelopes in the Sahelo-Saharan region of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, marine turtles of the African Atlantic Coast, albatrosses of the Western hemisphere, Mediterranean monk seals and a large number of other migratory animals are targets for improvement, international coordination and cooperation for their survival or better conservation.
A major new tool for the implementation of CMS is the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), a semi-global Agreement which includes 170 species of migratory waterbirds in 117 countries of Africa, Europe and Western Asia. The Agreement enters into force on 1 November 1999 and just 7 days later the 1st Meeting of the Parties will take place in Cape Town in conjunction with the CMS Conference of the Parties. Even before the Agreement enters into force formally, it has become a success story: Under the scheme of this comprehensive and very sophisticated Agreement some 20 projects for research, monitoring and comprehensive work including larger transboundary measures have already been developed and will soon be implemented. The most important project of this kind is a programme which coordinates transboundary research and monitoring projects as well as the development of conservation measures in 14 countries of West Africa (through Wetlands International with active support from the Netherlands).
The meeting in Cape Town will establish the Agreementís decision-making structures which will guarantee the active implementation by the Parties and the effective coordination of all the activities of scientists, conservation experts within and between the Range States of the bird species. The Agreement is also important for two reasons:
1. It aims to develop a new branch of mutual assistance - technical as well as financial - between the industrialised countries of Europe and Africa, the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe, all of which share the migratory waterbirds as their common natural heritage.
2. Migratory waterbirds represent the largest group of animals which are used for subsistence and recreational hunting. The AEWA provides the instruments to protect the common interest of all users and conservationists in improving the conservation status of those species which need to increase their numbers in their entire migration range.
Both CMS and AEWA Meetings will be opened by a common opening ceremony on Saturday afternoon, 6 November 1999 in the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West.
Needless to mention that the Government of South Africa, hosting the CMS Conference of the Parties, and the government of the Netherlands, acting as the host of the AEWA Meeting of the Parties, would merit great attendance and contributions from, in particular, the southern African countries, none of which has become a Party to either CMS or AEWA as yet.