Over 280 events took place around the world to commemorate World Migratory Bird Day, which took place under the theme, “…and when the skies fall silent?
Stop the Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade!” On the eve of the Day, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) announced the creation of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean (MIKT).
10 May 2016: Over 280 events took place around the world to commemorate World Migratory Bird Day, which took place under the theme, “…and when the skies fall silent? Stop the Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade!” On the eve of the Day, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) announced the creation of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean (MIKT).
CMS and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), co-organized World Migratory Bird Day in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), BirdLife International, Wetlands International, International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP).
“During their long journeys, migratory birds run afoul of any number of natural obstacles, from predators to weather. They shouldn’t also have to duck the grasping claws of the illegal wildlife trade,” stressed UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. He explained, “Illegal taking and killing of birds threaten not only the survival of bird species, but ecosystems, communities and livelihoods as well,” saying the Day “is not strictly for the birds; it’s to remind us of the part they play for planet and people alike.” Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias’ statement similarly stressed that such illegal activities “negatively impact our society in general,” including conservation, agriculture and tourism. He highlighted the relevance of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets for migratory birds, including to protect and manage critical sites and habitats and to reduce direct threats to species.
Other UN leaders also underscored the threat of wildlife crime to millions of migratory birds in statements on the Day. CMS Executive Secretary Bradnee Chambers described wildlife crime and illegal killing, taking and trade of wild birds as “a significant threat globally to many waterbirds, landbirds and birds of prey.” AEWA Executive Secretary Jacques Trouvilliez emphasized that the equipment used to capture birds has become more efficient and sophisticated, urging action to stop such practices “if we don’t want our skies to fall silent.”
To address the illegal killing, taking and trade in birds, CMS established the MIKT under CMS COP Resolution 11.16 on the illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds. The Task Force will facilitate international cooperation on the issue, agree on new guidelines, recommendations and action plans to address the illegal trade, and work to change hunting practices to bring them into compliance with international and national laws. It will also enhance the enforcement of laws through training local police and judiciary and promoting information exchange and prevention policies.
CMS will coordinate the Task Force, which will include governments, the European Commission (EC), UNEP, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), INTERPOL, international environmental treaties, law enforcement and judiciary organizations, hunting communities and nongovernmental organizations. MIKT will initially focus on the Mediterranean region, where an estimated 25 million birds, including endangered species of raptors, songbirds and waterfowl, are killed illegally each year, according to BirdLife International. MIKT is expected to be replicated in other major flyways around the world.
BirdLife International launched a socioeconomic study on the ‘Hunting and Illegal Killing of Birds along the Mediterranean Coast of Egypt,’ which is expected to serve as an input to the first meeting of the Task Force. It also released a study on the scale and scope of illegal killing across the Mediterranean, titled ‘The Killing.’
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his support for the campaign and for raising awareness on “threats to migratory birds from habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution and climate change.” According to the UN, these pressures are placing once common species at the risk of extinction and illegal activities, such as poaching and trapping, are further endangering their survival. Ban urged greater international efforts to preserve migratory birds and the network of sites they need to survive. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Centre highlighted the importance of World Heritage sites for migratory birds, stressing that its sites contain critical habitats and refugees for migratory birds.
Also on birds, the First Meeting of Signatories of the High Andean Flamingos Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) unanimously agreed to include the Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), a near threatened species with 300,000 individuals, under the MOU. The meeting, which convened from 26-27 April in Cuzco, Peru, also adopted a detailed Action Plan for the Flamingos MOU, including on conservation and management, monitoring and research, and education and public awareness. Under the Action Plan, signatories will undertake surveys of the flamingos every year at the national level and every five years in all Range States. The Andean Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus) and the James Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) are also included under the MOU.
On other CMS activities, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become the 123rd Party to the Convention.
World Migratory Bird Day, initiated in 2006, is celebrated annually to highlight the need to conserve migratory birds and their habitats. Tackling illegal killing and trade in wildlife, including birds, will also be the focus of the 2016 World Environment Day, which is taking place under the slogan, ‘Go Wild for Life.’ [CMS Press Release on the Day] [UN Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [World Migratory Bird Day Website] [CBD Executive Secretary Statement] [UNESCO Statement] [Statements on the Day] [Task Force Website] [Hunting and Illegal Killing of Birds along the Mediterranean Coast of Egypt] [The Killing] [CMS Press Release on Flamingos] [CMS Press Release, on UAE] [CMS Press Release on Concert for the Day]