COP13: UN body to now protect Asian elephant, great Indian bustard, Bengal florican

New Delhi: India’s proposal to include great Indian bustard, Asian elephant and Bengal florican in Appendix I of UN Convention on Migratory Species was unanimously accepted yesterday at the ongoing 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP 13) in Gandhinagar.

The Government of India has declared the Indian elephant as National Heritage Animal. The Indian elephant is also provided with the highest degree of legal protection by listing it in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Placing Indian elephant in Schedule I of the CMS Convention, will fulfil the natural urge of migration of Indian elephant across India’s borders and back safely and thereby promote conservation of this endangered species for our future generations.

Intermixing of smaller subpopulations in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar and widen the gene base of these populations. It will also help to reduce human-elephant conflicts in many parts of its migratory routes.

Mainland Asian elephants/Indian elephants migrate over long distances in search of food and shelter, across states and countries. Some elephants are resident while others migrate regularly in annual migration cycles. The proportion of resident and migratory populations depend upon the size of regional populations, as well as on extent, degradation and fragmentation of their habitats.

The challenges confronting Asian elephant conservation in most elephant Range States are habitat loss and fragmentation, human-elephant conflict, and poaching and illegal trade of elephants.

“India, being natural home of largest population of mainland Asian elephant/Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), wishes to promote conservation of this species, by seeking natural migration of elephants in all range countries, through bringing the subspecies under Appendix I of CMS Convention,” said Soumitra Dasgupta, ADG (Wildlife), while mooting the proposal which was unanimously accepted by the parties to the Convention.

The Great Indian Bustard, an iconic, critically endangered and conservation-dependent species, exhibits transboundary movements, and its migration exposes it to threats such as hunting in the boundary area of Pakistan-India and power-line collisions in India. Inclusion of the species in Appendix I of CMS will aide in transboundary conservation efforts facilitated by International conservation bodies and existing international laws and agreement.

The Great Indian Bustard is a Critically Endangered species with a small population of about 100–150 individuals that is largely restricted to the Thar desert in Rajasthan, India. The species has disappeared from 90% of this range. Their population has reduced by 90% within 50 years (six generations), and their threats are expected to increase in future.

The Bengal Florican, an iconic, critically endangered species of topmost conservation priority, exhibits transboundary movements, and its migration exposes it to threats such as land-use changes, collision with power transmission line at the boundary area of India-Nepal and probable power-line collisions. Inclusion of the species in Appendix I of CMS will aid in transboundary conservation efforts facilitated by International conservation bodies and existing international laws and agreement.

Earlier, two proposals were presented at CMS COP13, to consider conservation measures for the Eastern tropical Pacific sperm whale and nut-cracking chimpanzee.


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The ID Staff

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