Turtles, whales, sharks… The threat weighs on millions of animals.
The situation of many migratory species, which play a major role in the balance of nature, is deteriorating, warns a new report published this Monday under the auspices of the UN.
Among the species listed by the 1979 Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, which publishes this very first report on the state of these animals, one in five species is threatened with extinction and 44% are facing extinction. their population decrease.
The situation is particularly worrying for certain species: almost all (97%), among the 58 listed fish species, are threatened with extinction, like certain sharks.
“Migratory species are being hit hard,” laments the head of UN-Environment, Inger Andersen.
These species include animals emblematic of life on Earth such as sea turtles, albatrosses, sturgeons, whales and sharks, but also elephants and species of wild cats, and many birds.
Beyond these animal species, “the phenomenon of migration itself is in danger, because there are barriers and the habitats these animals need can be under pressure”, underlines Amy Fraenkel, the executive secretary of the Convention.
Overexploitation and habitat loss
Animal migrations can in fact be guided by numerous factors such as the search for favorable climatic conditions, access to food or an ideal environment for giving birth to young.
However, the threats weighing on them are directly linked to human activity: loss, degradation or fragmentation of habitats mainly due to intensive agriculture or overexploitation by hunting and fishing, as well as climate change.
“This report shows that unsustainable human activities endanger the future of migratory species,” underlines Inger Andersen.
Animals are also subject to additional pressures such as pollution (pesticides, plastics, etc.) or underwater noises or lights which disturb them.
A threat that is all the more serious given that half of the nearly 10,000 “key areas” identified by the Convention as important for migratory animals are not protected or conserved areas.
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The authors of the report hope to therefore call for “identifying, protecting, connecting and managing sites important for migratory species”.
They hope to make this cry of alarm heard, as a conference (COP14) opens bringing together countries from around the world that are signatories to the latter, i.e. more than 130 nations but not the United States or China. .
They meet in the historic city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan from February 12 to 17 to look into the fate of these migratory species.
A summit that is all the more crucial as these species play a key role in the environment.
“Creatures that not only act as indicators of environmental change but also play a role in maintaining the functions of our planet’s complex ecosystems and ensuring their resilience,” says Inger Andersen.
These species provide many services such as pollination, the transfer of nutrients from one environment to another, or the elimination of pests.
Bats, for example, play an important role in the pollination of flowers and the dispersal of seeds, allowing the propagation of mango or papaya trees in certain countries.
Nearly 400 threatened but not yet recorded species
The report not only draws up this grim observation but also calls for international cooperation to help animals which, by nature, know no borders and can sometimes cross thousands of kilometers.
Other priorities: fight against illegal or unsustainable catches, urgently take care of the species most threatened with extinction or step up efforts to tackle various pollution (light, noise, plastic, chemistry, etc.) and change climatic.
The report further suggests expanding the list of species listed by the Convention to draw attention to other endangered animals.
It lists nearly 400 threatened or near-threatened species which do not yet appear in the Convention lists, such as American and European bison or the Indus dolphin.