Conservation treaty urged to give turtles, tigers, whales and sharks a future

Monday, December 1, 2008
(Rome, Italy - 1 December 2008) –The future of some of the world's most threatened species will be discussed this week as delegates from over 100 countries gather today for the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

During the five day conference, proposals to be considered include measures to protect whales and other cetaceans from ocean noise, together with discussions about tigers, elephants, turtles, sharks, birds and gorillas.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) believes habitat protection is essential for the survival of many species and acknowledges the strength of CMS's work in bringing countries together to create agreements and cross border alliances which actively protect wildlife and habitats.  

“The CMS is excellent at finding solutions to conservation crises.  Many species range across country borders but human boundaries should not threaten the survival of wild animals. The future of our most endangered wildlife rests upon countries acting together.  The CMS excels in bringing both nations and conservation organisations together to pilot species to safety,” said Darren Kindleysides, IFAW’s Programmes Manager and Head of Delegation to the CMS meeting.

IFAW is seeking greater protection for tigers and Asian big cats, together with agreement to protect marine species from some of the major threats they face – ocean noise, ship strikes and by-catch in fishing gear.  In addition, IFAW is encouraging countries to commit financial support to fund key agreements to protect, amongst other things, turtles in the Pacific and small cetaceans off the west coast of Africa.

“Through CMS, range states can make a real commitment to protecting endangered species and their habitat so that we do not face a future without these incredible animals,” Mr Kindleysides said.

Tigers are one of the world's most threatened species of wildlife, with less than 4,000 remaining in the wild. Wild tigers and other Asian big cats are gravely threatened by poaching and habitat loss.  Tiger habitats throughout Asia have been reduced by 40% in the last decade and by 90% since the beginning of the 20th century.

Elephants are threatened by poaching for their ivory and skin, habitat loss and destruction, and conflict with encroaching human populations. IFAW believes that over 20,000 elephants are killed each year to fulfil the illegal ivory trade, a deadly trade that is pushing some populations of wild elephants to the brink of extinction. 

Eroding beaches around the world pose serious threats to sea turtles that return to breed in their sands. Both adults and hatchlings suffer from loss of habitat, poaching, nest predation and disorientation by artificial light. The turtles that are able to return to sea are not yet free of danger as fishing practices cause many deaths from entanglement in fishing gear.

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