Environmental News from the US: About a fifth of reptile species – from the Galapagos tortoises to the Komodo dragon of the Indonesian islands, from West Africa’s rhinoceros viper to India’s gharial – are threatened with extinction, researchers said on Wednesday in the first comprehensive global status assessment for reptiles.
The study examined 10,196 reptile species, including turtles, crocodilians, lizards, snakes, and the tuatara, the only surviving member of a lineage dating back more than 200 million years. They found that 21% of species are critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to extinction as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the status of species. They also identified 31 species that have already gone extinct.
“This global assessment is a key beginning to understanding reptile conservation needs. Now we know where the priorities are and what the threats are that we need to ameliorate. There is no longer any excuse for leaving reptiles out of conservation planning and implementation efforts worldwide,” added Young, chief zoologist and senior conservation scientist at Arlington, Virginia-based NatureServe, a biodiversity science organization.
“Global collaboration and commitment are a must if we are to prevent an extinction catastrophe,” said study co-leader Neil Cox, manager of the Biodiversity Assessment Unit, a joint initiative of the IUCN and the group Conservation International.
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