Johannesburg — A GLOBAL animal welfare and conservationcharity has welcomed the commitment by world governments to increase protection for some of Africa's most iconic but threatened wildlife. Among the animals are chimpanzee, giraffe, leopard and lion. Leaders made a commitment to their protection at the ongoing 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in Manila, The Philipines capital. "This new commitment by world governments to enhance protection for African wildlife couldn't have come at a more critical time; Lion, leopard, giraffe and chimpanzee numbers are plummeting across the continent due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and conflict with humans," said Matthew Collis, Director of International Policy at International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Lions and leopards will be added to Appendix II of CMS, meaning countries agree to further cooperation at the international level to protect these species. Lion populations have declined by over 40 percent in the last two decades across Africa and in some areas by more than 50 percent. Only 20 000 lions are estimated to remain in 26 African countries, occupying only eight percent of their historic range. While leopards can be found in 79 African and Asian countries, their status has been raised from "Near Threatened" to "Vulnerable." In southern African strongholds, leopards have lost over a fifth of their range in the last two decades. Giraffes were also added to CMS Appendix II. Chimpanzees were added to Appendix I and II of CMS, meaning they and their habitats must be strictly protected. They are present in 21 African nations but numbers have declined dramatically as a result of human encroachment into their habitat. The above listings will be confirmed at the plenary session of CMS on Saturday.
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