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Nearly half of the world’s migratory species are in decline, says UN

NEARLY half of the world’s migratory species are in decline, according to a damning new United Nations report released today.

Many songbirds, sea turtles, whales, sharks and other migratory animals move to different environments with changing seasons and are imperilled by habitat loss, illegal hunting and fishing, pollution and climate change.

About 44 per cent of migratory species worldwide are declining in population, the report found. More than a fifth of the nearly 1,200 species monitored by the UN are threatened with extinction.

Lead author Kelly Malsch said: “These are species that move around the globe. 

“They move to feed and breed and also need stopover sites along the way.”

Habitat loss or other threats at any point in their journey can lead to dwindling populations.

“Migration is essential for some species. If you cut the migration, you’re going to kill the species,” said Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm, who was not involved in the report.

The report was released at a UN wildlife conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where participants plan to evaluate proposals for conservation measures and also whether to formally list several new species of concern.

Susan Lieberman, vice-president for international policy at the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society, said: “One country alone cannot save any of these species.”

At the meeting, eight governments from South America are expected to jointly propose adding two species of declining Amazon catfish to the UN treaty’s list of migratory species of concern, she said.

The Amazon River basin is the world’s largest freshwater system. 

Ms Lieberman said: “If the Amazon is intact, the catfish will thrive — it’s about protecting the habitat.”

In 2022, governments pledged to protect 30 per cent of the planet’s land and water resources for conservation at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada.

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