Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 34 n° 316

Polar bears gain protection under Migratory Species Convention

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 12 novembre 2014

orsoBorn Free Foundation and Born Free USA representatives welcome the listing of the polar bear on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which has been meeting in Quito, Ecuador. This move extends additional protection that polar bears so desperately need. By agreeing this move, member countries, also known as ‘Parties’ to the Convention, have agreed to work more closely together to improve protection for this iconic species.The entire global population of polar bears, estimated in 2009 to consist of 20-25,000 individuals, is unevenly distributed across the circumpolar Arctic. Their range is encompassed within the territories of five countries: the United States of America, Canada, Greenland (administered by Denmark), Norway and Russia. Individual polar bears occupy extensive home ranges and migrate across huge distances, during which they frequently cross international borders meaning they classify as ‘migratory’ under the Convention’s rules. Polar bears have come to the attention of the Convention because of the worrying threats they face. Of 19 recognised subpopulations, four are classified by the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission as ‘declining’, and nine as ‘data deficient’, with only one classified as ‘increasing’. Late maturity, low reproductive rates and long-term maternal dependency make polar bears extremely vulnerable to a dramatic decrease in numbers, while their specialised diet renders them highly susceptible to habitat loss and prey-base reductions.Global warming, resulting in reductions in the sea-ice, on which the bears rely for food, mating and denning, is the main threat to the future of this iconic species. The impacts of climate change have been most dramatic in polar-regions, and Arctic sea ice extent is now more than two million square kilometres less than it was in the late 20th century. An additional 10-50 percent decline in annual average sea-ice extent is predicted by 2100.
One study predicts the global population of polar bears could fall by two thirds by 2050 as a result.Some polar bear subpopulations are also directly impacted by human activities including shipping, subsistence hunting and, in the case of Canadian populations, by sport hunting and resulting commercial trade in trophies and hides. Additional threats, such as disease, contamination with pollutants, human-wildlife conflict as human activity in the Arctic increases, and competition/hybridisation with the brown bear Ursus arctos, may become increasingly significant as polar bear habitat contracts.The Appendix II listing provides a framework within which the wider international community can collaborate in its efforts to protect this species. It complements the existing regional priorities and plans administered by the Arctic Council and the range states. The CMS listing adds value since it reaches out to the international community to assist.Mark Jones from the Born Free Foundation said: “The CMS Appendix II listing is a milestone in international efforts to protect the iconic polar bear. The engagement of the CMS family will provide mechanisms for supporting and strengthening exiting multilateral and bilateral collaborative measures between Arctic States and indigenous Arctic communities aimed at conserving polar bears. We now urge CMS Parties and non-parties alike to work together to secure the future of this iconic species.” (orso)


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