Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

Under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, CMS is an environmental treaty on the conservation of migratory animals and their habitats.

CMS brings together the range states through which migratory animals pass, and provides legal framework for internationally coordinated conservation measures, including protection of habitat and regulating trade.

Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1983, four years after the original treaty was signed in Bonn, its membership has grown steadily to include 120 parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, who meet every three years.

IFAW has attended CMS for many years, and has been cooperating with the CMS secretariat on the conservation of many of our key species, including elephants, tigers, cetaceans, sharks and seals.

Our participation in international conferences like these is crucial to our work.

UPDATES FROM CMS CoP11 in Quito, Ecuador, November 4-9, 2014

IFAW CEO Azzedine Downes:

At CMS, working to reconcile “green“ values to include animal welfare

IFAW's Director, International Environmental Agreements, Peter Pueschel:

Advocating species listings at CMS in Quito


Proposal:  CMS Appendix I and II listings on 21 migratory species including sawfishes, reef manta ray, mobula rays, silky sharks, hammerhead sharks, and thresher sharks.

Proponents: Fiji, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Kenya, Egypt, EU.

Background: Shark and ray species are increasingly endangered due to unsustainable targeted and incidental fishing. These species are highly migratory and are inherently vulnerable to overexploitation due to their low breeding productivity.

IFAW position: We strongly urge CMS parties to support the inclusion of these species on CMS Appendices I and II which is in line with the precautionary approach. The listings could facilitate regional cooperation, protect populations and habitats and bolster much-needed recovery efforts.

SEE ALSO: We need more international support for the protection of sharks and rays

Blog: "Today is a turning point for sharks"

Fact sheets

Polar Bears:

Proposal: Inclusion of the Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on CMS App. II.

Proponent: Norway

Background: Polar bears, one of the mightiest predators on Earth, are gravely threatened by climate change, unsustainable commercial trade for its fur and sport hunting.

Climate change is causing the Arctic’s ice to melt, putting the survival of sea-ice dependent species such as polar bears, walruses, ice-pack seals and some species of whales at great risk. Polar bears depend on summer sea ice for hunting, breeding and denning.

While the conservation community works to address the complex long-term issues of climate change, it’s up to us to eliminate right now any unnecessary threats polar bears face that we can readily address.

IFAW position: IFAW sees the need to support higher protection for polar bears. While this is a step in the right direction and brings attention to the threats facing polar bears, a CMS App II listing doesn’t ultimately provide sufficient conservation action.

RELATED: Range countries must commit to a conservation strategy with teeth

Proposal: Inclusion of the African lion (Panthera leo) in CMS App. II
Proponent: Kenya
Background: The African lion is currently found in West, Central, East and Southern Africa. The threats facing African lions are numerous, including trophy hunting, habitat destruction and fragmentation, loss of traditional prey species, disease, and conflict with humans. It is classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable with a declining population trend. Based on the latest estimates the species has disappeared from 75 percent of its historic range and the population has declined by nearly 60 percent over the last three decades.
IFAW position: IFAW sees the need to support higher protection for lions in Africa. While it is a step in the right direction, a CMS App. II listing doesn’t ultimately provide sufficient conservation action for African lions

Other Animals:

IFAW will also be working hard to push for the protection of migratory bird species, large mammal conservation in Central Asia, whale conservation, and the overall strategic direction of the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS).

Convention on Migratory Species offers a good chance for elephants

CMS CoP10 in Bergen, Norway 20-25 November, 2011

The Giant Manta Ray makes the list at the Convention on Migratory Species

Our man arrives in Bergen, Norway for the Convention on Migratory Species

Like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), CMS utilizes appendices, with Appendix I for the most endangered of species to protect animals, conserve or restore their habitat, mitigate obstacles to migration and control other factors that might endanger them. CMS actively promotes concerted action among the range states of said species.

Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. For this reason, the Convention encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional agreements. Other covenants range from legally binding treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments (Memoranda of Understanding).