More than a fifth of migratory animal species are threatened with extinction, a landmark United Nations (UN) report has revealed.
Some 97% of fish are also at risk of being wiped out, while the populations of nearly half of the world’s migratory species are in decline, the report added.
Humans pose the biggest threat to these animals, with 70% of species endangered due to activities including hunting, fishing and other forms of overexploitation. Habitat loss affected up to 75% of the species.
Migratory animals travel across the world every year as the seasons change to breed and feed, and are essential to the world’s habitats.
But “unsustainable” pressures – including habitat loss, pollution and climate change – could not only see their populations dwindle, but also disrupt food supplies and threaten their existence, the report said.
The steppe eagle, Egyptian vulture and the wild camel are among the species whose risk of extinction has increased in the last 30 years.
The UN, as part of a 1979 convention to protect migratory animals, tracks 1,189 at-risk species.
Its report, released on Monday, also investigated how many migratory species are under threat but not covered by the UN convention.
It found 399 species – mainly birds and fish, including many albatrosses and perching birds, ground sharks and stingrays – are categorised as threatened or near-threatened by extinction.
The report gives “a very clear direction” about what governments need to do to tackle the threats to migratory species, said Amy Fraenkel, executive secretary of the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
“It’s always about implementation,” she said ahead of a UN meeting held this week in Uzbekistan.
“We need to look at the top levels of government decision-making and what is being planned so that we can make sure that we can … address human needs while not sacrificing the nature we all need to survive.”
Eight governments from South America are expected to jointly propose adding two species of declining Amazon catfish to the UN’s list of migratory species of concern.
Participants at the UN conference are also set to evaluate proposals for conservation measures and whether to formally list several new species of concern.
The UN will also launch a new programme to provide technical assistance for countries to protect habitats more effectively, Ms Fraenkel said.