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7 Juli 2005

CMS and CITES Chiefs appeal to Range States on endangered Saiga Antelope

Saiga Antelope

CMS and CITES have launched an initiative urging the governments of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to sign the CMS Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica tatarica).

Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary of CMS, and Willem Wijnstekers, Secretary General of CITES, as chief officers of the Conventions, have written to the four Range States asking each country to signal their intention to sign the MoU by 15 July 2005.

Following Decisions 13.27 to 13.35 adopted by the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES held in Bangkok, October 2004, Range States are requested to complete their internal consultations and to arrange with the CMS Secretariat to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This will send a strong signal to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors about the commitment of the four Range States. Activities on the MoU including a draft Action Plan began in 2002 and have involved these Range States.

Saiga populations have been severely depleted by more than 90% over the last 13 years. CMS and CITES have taken the lead in designing conservation measures to conserve the species. Poaching to supply male horns to Asian markets for medical use was one of the main causes for the population ‘crash’ from 1 million in to 31,000 individuals between 1990 and 2003.

CMS and CITES aim to work together to restore the populations of the Saiga Antelope to healthy levels throughout its range. Monitoring, assessing natural and human induced threats, examining the existing network of Protected Areas and captivity breeding should contribute to this objective. WWF International will closely collaborate with CMS and CITES to preserve this unique species. CITES are also organising a major enforcement workshop in Urumqi, China in August 2005, which will include Saiga, and which CMS will also attend. The MoU is essential as a framework for joint action, and to attract funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors.

The Saiga Memorandum of Understanding is expected to be open for signature at the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS in Nairobi in November.

CMS - Convention on Migratory Species


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