This video is about a polar bear and her two cubs.
Governments agree on new protections for polar bears
Convention on Migratory Species meeting in Ecuador adds listings for Cuvier’s beaked-whale, and 21 shark, ray and sawfish
Monday 10 November 2014 14.17 GMT
Polar bears are among 31 species approved for greater protections by more than 100 countries, in a move hailed by conservationists as an important step to saving the endangered mammal.
The Convention on Migratory Species conference in Ecuador closed on Sunday, with new listings for a whale capable of the world’s deepest ocean dives, and 21 shark, ray and sawfish. A proposal to list the African lion, however, was rejected due to a lack of data.
The Norwegian proposal to protect the estimated 20,000-25,000 remaining polar bears, which are threatened by melting ice, Arctic oil exploration and hunting, saw the species gain an Appendix II listing. That means countries must work together to put in place conservation plans, as opposed to the stronger Appendix I listing which requires strict protections such as bans on killing an animal.
Dr Masha Vorontsova, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare Russia, said: “We are pleased to see the polar bear joining a growing list of threatened migratory species protected under CMS. Appendix II does not mean that sufficient conservation action will be taken to protect the well-being of polar bears.
“What gives us hope is that this listing means that 120 countries are now recognising 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.”
The top level of protection, Appendix I, was issued for the rarely-seen Cuvier’s beaked-whale (Ziphius cavirostris), which scientists have recorded as diving as deep as 3km below the water’s surface.
The meeting in Quito also agreed that the 120 parties to the convention should pass laws to ban the capture of live whales and dolphins for use in travelling shows and entertainment.
Cathy Williamson of Whale and Dolphin Conservation said: “This very positive development from CMS sends a clear message of international concern about the impact of live captures for the aquarium industry on wild whale and dolphin populations.”
Campaigners praised the new protections for rays and sharks, with countries agreeing to take steps to stop the practice of finning, where sharks are caught and their fins cut off for use as soup at Chinese banquets.
Humane Society International’s Alexia Wellbelove said: “Today’s commitment at CMS by countries to provide greater protection for shark and ray species is an unprecedented step forwards in the conservation of sharks and rays worldwide.”
Governments agreed that the use of lead shot should be cut down to stop the poisoning of migrating birds, despite the UK initially opposing the move. The resolution also called for the phasing out of the veterinary drug diclofenac, and rodenticides, insecticides and poison baits.
Martin Harper, RSPB director of conservation, said: “I would like to congratulate the UK government for its role in helping to find a way forward. The UK showed leadership on the issue of poisoning by providing financial support to set up the CMS Preventing Poisoning Working Group, which produced the guidelines that have been ratified.”
Guidelines were also settled for the first time on how best to protect birds and bats from wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy.
Bradnee Chambers, the convention’s executive secretary, said: “Like never before in the 35-year history of CMS, migratory animals have become the global flagships for many of the pressing issues of our time. From plastic pollution in our oceans, to the effects of climate change, to poaching and overexploitation, the threats migratory animals face will eventually affect us all.”