Global commitment secured to safeguard African wildlife at UN conference

International Fund for Animal Welfare's picture

Thursday, 26 October, 2017

IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) welcomed the commitment by world governments to increase protection for some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife: lions, leopards, chimpanzees and giraffes at the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS),

However, this added protection, only came about after a historical first at CMS, when governments had to vote on species proposals, after failing to reach consensus.

“This new commitment by world governments to enhance protection for African wildlife couldn’t have come at a more critical time; Lion, leopard, giraffe and chimpanzee numbers are plummeting across the continent due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and conflict with humans,” said Matthew Collis, Director of International Policy at IFAW.

Lions and leopards will be added to Appendix II of CMS, meaning countries agree to further cooperation at the international level to protect these species.

Lion populations have declined by over 40 percent in the last two decades across Africa and in some areas by more than 50 percent.  Only 20,000 lions are estimated to remain in 26 African countries, occupying only eight percent of their historic range.  While less than 500 lions remain in India, the only country in Asia where lions have not gone extinct.

While leopards can be found in 79 African and Asian countries, the 2016 ICUN red list raised the global status of leopards from Near Threatened to Vulnerable. Habitat for these solitary cats has become increasingly fragmented around the world, with some populations, such as the far east’s Amur leopard, reduced to just two percent of their historical range. Even in southern African strongholds, leopards have lost over a fifth of their range in the last two decades.

Giraffes were also added to CMS Appendix II, with countries agreeing to work more closely to protect them. Scientists raised the alarm last year, warning giraffes were heading towards a ‘silent extinction’ with a decline of over 40% in the last 30 years.

Chimpanzees were added to Appendix I and II of CMS, meaning they and their habitats must be strictly protected in all range states. Chimpanzees, humans’ closest living relative in the animal kingdom, are present in 21 African nations but numbers have declined dramatically as a result of human encroachment into chimpanzee habitat, the bushmeat and live animal trades. With only scattered patches of habitat remaining, in some cases straddling international boundaries, better cooperation by range states to protect these remaining populations are vital.

These listings will be confirmed at the plenary session of CMS on Saturday, 28th October.

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About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on social at @action4ifaw and Facebook/IFAW.

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