Lions, chimps, sharks get added protection under UN convention

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AFP/File / ISSOUF SANOGO Ponso, the only surviving chimpanzee of a colony of 20 apes, sits in a tree on Chimpanzee Island in Ivory Coast, where the ape population has plummeted by 90 percent in just two decades

Lions, chimpanzees, giraffes, leopards and a wide variety of sharks received added protection at a UN wildlife conference in the Philippines, organisers said Saturday.

Some 34 endangered species were selected to receive heightened conservation efforts at the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) conference that just concluded in Manila.

Protecting migratory species poses particular difficulties since they cross borders, including possibly moving to countries with less stringent wildlife protection systems said Bradnee Chambers, CMS executive secretary.

“If the species is moving around all of these countries, everybody has to pitch in,” he said at the end of the week-long conference.

Lions, leopards and chimpanzees were singled out as needing more conservation work. The chimpanzee in particular is at risk as their numbers have dropped in recent years due to habitat loss, the organisers said.

The giraffe, which is in decline throughout Africa with fewer than 90,000 animals left in the wild, was also listed.

All four of these African mammals were approved by a “wide majority” for additional protection measures, a CMS statement noted.

Other animals that were listed were three species of shark including the whale shark, the largest fish in the world. Host country the Philippines had lobbied for this creature, which has become a major tourist attraction.

More than 120 states are party to the CMS, but this does not include China and many other Asian countries.

“We’re trying to work to bring China onboard as a member of the convention. We have been engaging them and they are actually doing quite a bit,” Chambers told reporters.

“What it required is positive engagement with the country to see how to find solutions instead of just bashing the country and looking at the negative side.”