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Explained: What is the Convention on Migratory Species and how does it matter to India?

The CMS is an environmental treaty of the UN that provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.

Written by Om Marathe , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 18, 2020 8:44:16 am
The conference concludes on February 22. (Source:

India will host the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP13) on Monday, a major United Nations wildlife conference, in Gandhinagar. The theme of the conference is “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home”.

The conference concludes on February 22.

What is the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)?

The CMS is an environmental treaty of the UN that provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. It is the only global convention specialising in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes.

The pact was signed in 1979 in Germany and is known as the Bonn Convention.

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“CMS brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range,” the CMS website says.

Appendix I of the Convention lists ‘Threatened Migratory Species’.

“CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them,” according to the CMS website.

Appendix II lists ‘Migratory Species requiring international cooperation’.

At this year’s summit, the Urial, a wild sheep from Central Asia, is being proposed for inclusion under Appendix II.

Separately, the Gobi Bear and Persian Leopard are being considered for inclusion under the Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI), a 14-country regional initiative that currently covers 15 species.


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India and the CMS

India has been a party to the CMS since 1983. According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, “India is a temporary home to several migratory animals and birds. The important among these include Amur Falcons, Bar-headed Geese, Black-necked cranes, Marine turtles, Dugongs, Humpbacked Whales, etc. The Indian sub-continent is also part of the major bird flyway network, i.e, the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory water-bird species, including 29 globally threatened species. India has also launched the National Action Plan for the conservation of migratory species under the Central Asian Flyway”.

As per a February 2019 press release by the Ministry, India had non-legally binding MoUs with the CMS on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016).


“Outcomes expected at CMS COP13 include negotiated decisions, political commitments and new initiatives, including proposals to add 10 new species for protection under the CMS. These include the Asian Elephant, the Jaguar, the Great Indian Bustard, and the Smooth Hammerhead Shark. Parties will also discuss the adoption of dedicated concerted actions for 12 different species, including the Giraffe, the Ganges River Dolphin, the Common Guitarfish and the Antipodean Albatross,” a CMS press release said.

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First published on: 16-02-2020 at 11:16:10 pm
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