There was some worrying news about the future of reptiles from the Zoological Society of London last Friday, when they they revealed that one in five of world’s 10,000 species of reptiles are threatened with extinction.
Their new study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, estimates that 19% are now struggling to survive. Of those under threat, 12% of reptile species were critically endangered and 41% endangered and 47% vulnerable.
It highlights three critically endangered species:
- The jungle runner lizard, Ameiva vittata, which has only ever been spotted in an area of the Bolivian jungle that is under threat from the growth of agriculture and logging.
- The Anolis lizard from Haiti, where six of the nine species are at risk of extinction due to increased deforestation.
- Freshwater turtles — 50% are at risk of extinction from hunting because turtle parts are in high demand as ingredients in traditional medicine.
The study, published in conjunction with the IUCN species survival commission, reveals that 30% of freshwater reptile species are also in danger of disappearing. The spread of farming and deforestation in tropical regions represents two of the greatest threats to reptiles.
Monika Bohm, the lead author, said: “Reptiles are often associated with extreme habitats so it is easy to assume that they will be fine in our changing world. But many reptile species are very high specialized in terms of habitat use and the climatic conditions they require for day to day functioning. This makes them particularly sensitive to environmental changes.”