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31 animal species given U.N. protection status

The U.N. Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) announced Sunday that 31 species will be given new protection status.

Of the animals new to the list, 21 species include sharks, rays, and sawfish. Other animals that gained protection include birds and mammals, such as polar bears and the red-fronted gazelle.

"Migratory animals have become the global flagships for many of the pressing issues of our time," CMS executive secretary Bradnee Chambers told AFP. "From plastic pollution in our oceans, to the effects of climate change, to poaching and over-exploitation, the threats migratory animals face will eventually affect us all."

More than 900 experts from the U.N. presented the list after a six-day meeting. The African lion was the only proposed species that didn't make the list, because there was "not enough information from the countries where it lives," according to AFP.