Jaguar © Canva.com
Of the migratory animals protected under the Convention on Migratory Species, 94 taxa are considered terrestrial mammals, including a variety of species such as the Jaguar, Straw-coloured Fruit Bat, Chimpanzee, and Saiga Antelope. Their migratory ranges span multiple routes, often reaching across several countries. The varied and often compounding threats they face include habitat loss and degradation, climate change, unsustainable hunting and poaching, pollution, and the presence of linear infrastructure. The latter refers to human-made structures like fences, highways, railways, and canals, which often act as barriers to the natural movements of wild animals.
Terrestrial Priority Topics at COP14
Among the topics to be discussed by governments at the CMS COP14 in Samarkand are several relating specifically to terrestrial species, along with cross-cutting issues crucial for the conservation of species listed under the Convention on Migratory Species. These topics include linear infrastructure development, the establishment of trans-frontier conservation areas, and measures to combat the illegal and unsustainable taking of species.
Pastoralism and Migratory Species
The topic of pastoralism will be discussed for the first time by CMS Parties at COP14. This ancient practice of raising livestock involves moving herds in search of fresh grazing lands and water. Modern pastoralism, often on a larger scale with herd sizes sometimes in the thousands, shares grasslands and rangelands with migratory animals. Excessive pastoralism can negatively affect migratory species by surpassing the ecosystems' carrying capacities.
At the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Parties will review a draft decision (see COP14 Document: UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc. 29.7) to establish a working group on pastoralism. This group will bring together all relevant actors and interest groups for engagement. If established, this CMS Working Group is expected to support international efforts in addressing pastoralism issues. Additionally, the CMS Working Group on Pastoralism would contribute to the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists, declared by the UN General Assembly for 2026.
Addax © Canva.com
Two New Regional Initiatives
Modeled on the successful CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI), which has provided a solid framework for coordinated conservation activities in Central Asia for species such as the Saiga antelope, Mongolian gazelles, and khulan, COP14 will consider two new regional species conservation initiatives. These initiatives are for the Sahelo-Saharan region and for the range-wide transboundary conservation of the Jaguar.
Sahelo-Saharan Megafauna Initiative
The Government of Morocco is leading the proposal for establishing the Sahelo-Saharan Megafauna Initiative (SSMFI) at COP14. It has submitted a work plan for this initiative, seeking consideration and adoption by CMS Parties at the meeting in Samarkand. The SSMFI aims to be a long-term cooperation mechanism for conserving and managing Sahelo-Saharan megafauna. Similar to CAMI, it would provide a strategic vision and governance framework for internationally endorsed actions to conserve migratory mammals and their habitats in the region. The proposed work plan and the initiative's benefits were unanimously during a meeting of Range States in Agadir, Morocco, in March 2023, where the Government of Morocco agreed to lead the resolution for establishing the SSMFI at COP14 (See COP14 Document: UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.29.2.2).
Transboundary Jaguar Initiative
A proposal submitted for the consideration of COP14, on behalf of seven out of the ten Jaguar Range States that are Parties to CMS, puts forward a new transboundary conservation initiative for the Jaguar (Panthera onca), a species listed in CMS Appendices I and II. This initiative aims to unite all Jaguar Range States in joint actions, similar to the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) and the African Carnivores Initiative (ACI), ensuring cooperative implementation of conservation measures and action plans. Open to all Party and Non-Party Range States, the initiative promises various benefits for Jaguar conservation, including the creation and implementation of a Work Program and enhanced collaboration among countries, and between CMS and CITES. The Jaguar Initiative will focus on coordinating country and regional efforts to address challenges facing Jaguars, such as habitat destruction, loss of connectivity, human-wildlife conflict, and poaching. (See COP14 Document: UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.29.6.1).
African Wild Ass
The COP14 Document on the Conservation of the African Wild Ass highlights the successful implementation of key conservation measures and actions for the species by Range States. It proposes incorporating future work on the species within the newly proposed Sahelo-Saharan Megafauna Initiative. (See COP14 Document: UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.29.5/Rev.2).
African Elephants on the move © Canva.com
Action Plan for Elephants
A revised Action Plan for African Elephants, which now places greater emphasis on habitat conservation and ecological connectivity over illegal trade, will be presented for endorsement at COP14. If endorsed, this plan will also serve as a strategic guide for implementing the Western African Elephant Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). (See COP14 Document: UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.29.4.1).
A number of cross-cutting issues affecting a wide range of migratory species will be discussed at COP14. Topics of particular relevance for terrestrial species include linear infrastructure, terrestrial and avian wild meat, as well as community-based conservation.
For more information, please refer to the upcoming dedicated page on COP14 Cross-Cutting Issues.
Terrestrial COP14 LISTING PROPOSALS
The 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CMS COP14) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is scheduled to be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from February 12 to 17, 2024. As the Convention's main decision-making forum, CMS COP14 will bring together governments, scientists, and stakeholders to devise strategies for conserving migratory species and their habitats. This meeting is crucial for implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (Biodiversity Plan), adopted in December 2022, and marks a significant global biodiversity event since its adoption (see a summary of most relevant aspects of the GBF to CMS).
At CMS COP14, participants will review new scientific data on threats and conservation priorities for migratory animals, contributing to the Biodiversity Plan's goals. The agenda includes over a hundred items, focusing on enhancing ecological connectivity, mitigating the impact of new infrastructure on migratory species, addressing overexploitation and climate change effects, and tackling emerging threats like light and noise pollution. The conference will also see the launch of several key publications, including the first-ever report on the ‘State of the World’s Migratory Species’, new globally applicable guidelines on light pollution, and best practices for linear infrastructure.
This UN wildlife conservation conference is notable for being the first COP of any global environmental treaty held in Central Asia, a region with extensive grasslands and mountains home to various migratory species, such as the Saiga Antelope, the snow leopard, and numerous migratory birds.
Additionally, associated events like the 54th Meeting of the CMS Standing Committee and the High-Level Segment will occur in the same venue on February 11. The Migratory Species Champion Night is scheduled for the evening of February 12, the opening day of COP14.
Last updated on 14 February 2024