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The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13)

The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) held in Gandhinagar, India from 17th - 22nd February 2020 in a landmark decision accepted the proposal to enlist mainland Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) in Appendix I of the Convention of Migratory Species.

Attending government representatives of the 130 member parties to CMS COP13 accepted by consensus the proposal by host country India to list the mainland Asian elephant on Appendix I – affording it the highest protection possible.

IUCN Asian Elephant Species Specialist Group (AsESG) assisted the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in drafting this proposal.

Listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the challenges confronting Asian elephant conservation in most elephant range countries are habitat loss and fragmentation, human–elephant conflict, poaching for ivory and other products, such as skin and illegal trade of live elephants. Loss and fragmentation of habitat is perhaps the most important factor impacting elephant populations in most range countries. The spread of human settlements, plantations, industry, farming, mining and linear infrastructures (roads, railway lines, irrigation canals, power lines, pipelines) have squeezed extant elephant populations into ever-decreasing pockets of forests and have blocked traditional migratory routes leading to intense conflicts between people and elephants, causing fatalities on both sides besides damage to human property. More than 600 humans and 450 elephant death reported every year in Asia. In India alone, around 400-450 people lose their lives due to human elephant conflict and around 100 elephants are killed in retaliation to the damage they cause to human life and property.

India also announced its intention to work with other Asian elephant range states to form a regional agreement with collective actions to safeguard the iconic animal. “This listing corrects a historic oversight and gives the Asian Elephants its long deserving protected status. It’s a big win for the Asian Elephants! For the first time, range country governments accepted listing of the Asian Elephant on CMS Appendix-I” emphasized Vivek Menon, Chair of ASESG and Executive Director and CEO, Wildlife Trust of India. While India is home to 60% of Asian elephants, some of these animals regularly cross borders into neighbouring states, such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal. Several of these small transboundary populations are critical if the species is to survive in states beyond India.

Although many Asian countries are not members of CMS, regional agreements with collective actions can include CMS member and non-member states, and the hope is that many Asian elephant range states will now work more closely together to protect this species.


The Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) is a global network of specialists concerned with the study, monitoring, management, and conservation of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in its 13 range states