General Studies Paper 3

Context: The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme/ Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS) had organized a meeting of Range Countries to strengthen conservation efforts for migratory birds and their habitats in the Central Asian Flyway (CAF).

The meeting was attended by 11 countries, including Armenia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait. The delegates agreed on an institutional framework for the CAF and a draft roadmap for updating the CMS CAF Action Plan.

What is CMS?

  • It is an intergovernmental treaty under the UNEP- popularly known as Bonn Convention.
  • It was signed in 1979 and in force since 1983.
  • As of 1 March 2022, the CMS has 133 Parties.
  • India is also a party to CMS since 1983.


  • It aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.
  • It lays the legal foundation to conduct conservation measures on a global scale.
  • The legal instruments under CMS may range from legally binding Agreements to less formal MoU.

Two appendices under CMS:

  • Appendix I lists ‘Threatened Migratory Species’.
  • Appendix II lists ‘Migratory Species requiring international cooperation’.

India and the CMS:

  • India has signed a non-legally binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CMS on conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008), and Raptors (2016).
  • With 2.4% of the world’s land area, India contributes to around 8% of the known global biodiversity.
  • India also provides temporary shelter to several migratory species including Amur Falcons, Bar-headed Geese, Black-necked Cranes, Marine Turtles, Dugongs, Humpback Whales, etc.

What is a Migratory Species?

  • A species or lower taxon of wild animals of which the entire population or any geographically separate part of the population cyclically and predictably cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries.
  • The word ‘cyclically’ relates to a cycle of any nature, such as astronomical (circadian, annual, etc.), life or climatic, and of any frequency.
  • The word ‘predictably’ implies that a phenomenon can be anticipated to recur in a given set of circumstances, though not necessarily regularly in time.

What is Central Asian Flyway?

  • The CAF is a major migratory route for birds, covering 30 countries from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.
  • Indian subcontinent is a part of a CAF with at least 279 populations of 182 migratory waterbird species (including 29 globally threatened species).
  • It is home to more than 400 species of migratory birds, including threatened and endangered species such as the Siberian crane and the lesser white-fronted goose.

What are some Efforts made by India for Migratory Species?

National Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Birds (2018-2023): India has launched the National Action Plan for the conservation of migratory species along the Central Asian Flyway.

  • To reduce pressure on critical habitats and migratory routes by addressing the various challenges faced by migratory birds, including habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, hunting, poaching, pollution, and climate change.
  • To stop the decline of migratory birds and reverse the scenario by 2027.
  • To avoid threats to habitats and migratory routes and ensure their sustainability for future generations.
  • To support trans-boundary cooperation among various countries along the Central Asian Flyway to conserve migratory birds and their habitats.
  • To improve the database on migratory birds and their habitats to enhance our understanding of their conservation needs.

India also Announced:

  • Conservation of marine turtles- by launching its Marine Turtle Policy and Marine Stranding Management Policy, by 2020,
  • Reduction of pollution from micro-plastic and single-use plastic,
  • Transboundary protected areas for conservation of species like Tigers, Asian elephants, Snow Leopard, the Asiatic Lion, the one-horned rhinoceros, and the Great Indian Bustard, and
  • Sustainable infrastructure development like Linear Infrastructure Policy Guidelines to tailor development in ecologically fragile areas.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): PSL was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.
  • Dugong Conservation Reserve: India has established its first Dugong conservation reserve in Tamil Nadu.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:

  • Rare and endangered species of birds including migratory birds are included in Schedule-I of the Act thereby according them highest degree of protection.
  • Stringent punishments have been provided in the Act for violation of provisions of the Act.
  • Important habitats of birds, including migratory birds have been notified as protected Areas under the Act for better conservation and protection of birds and their habitats.

Other Initiatives:

  • Focused protection measures involving the local communities have been taken up in the State of Nagaland for protection of Amur Falcons that migrate to Northeast India on their route to Southern Africa.
  • India has taken several steps to conserve vultures like imposing ban on veterinary use of diclofenac, establishment of Vulture breeding centres etc.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established for control of illegal trade in wildlife and its parts and products.


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