Protections for polar bears increase at conservation summit but experts warn it’s not enough.

Protections for polar bears increase at conservation summit but experts warn it’
Friday, 7 November, 2014
Quito, Ecuador

A significant step was achieved today at the Convention of the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) with world leaders reaching consensus to list the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) to Appendix II, a decision that will be finalized on Sunday.  Experts from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) www.ifaw.org support this decision but warn that total protection of the polar bear through both Appendix I and II listings is needed in order to ensure the species’ survival.

“We are pleased to see the polar bear joining a growing list of threatened migratory species protected under CMS,” said Dr. Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia & CIS, and polar bear expert.

“Appendix II does not mean that sufficient conservation action will be taken to protect the well-being of polar bears,” added Vorontsova. “What gives us hope is that this listing means that 120 countries are now recognizing the threats that polar bears face from the shrinking of their ice habitat to pollution and hunting. This is an important first step, but it must not be the last if we wish to save the polar bear.”

There are only an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the world. These slow-breeding animals depend on sea ice over the Arctic shelf to hunt.

"There are scientific projections that warn that by 2050 the number of polar bears in the wild will have dropped by two thirds,” said Vorontsova.

Five range states, Canada, Denmark (on behalf of Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States have

signed international agreements to protect polar bears.

Every measure should be taken to protect Polar bears, CMS Appendix I listings are for the most endangered of species and aims to protect animals, conserve or restore their habitat, mitigate obstacles to migration and control other factors that might endanger them.  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 and to collaborate for species listed on Appendix II.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

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