From: Anna Taylor, The Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published February 28, 2013 06:26 AM

Reptiles Need Our Help NOW!

Reptiles have inhabited our planet for more than 250 million years, and are adapted to almost every part of it. Yet when it comes to conservation action, reptiles all over the world have been overlooked in favour of more charismatic animals. With only 35% of described reptile species evaluated for the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species, no one knew to what extent reptiles were being affected by our current extinction crisis.


However, a study recently published in the journal 'Biological Conservation' has highlighted the perilous state many reptiles are in, and calls for more to be done to protect them. The study was the result of collaboration between scientists at the Zoological Society of London and experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Over 200 experts assessed a random selection of 1,500 species (out of a total of 9,084 known species), representing each group of global reptilian diversity.

It has made science history by being the first ever assessment of the extinction risk of reptiles on such a scale. The study's authors also produced the first global species richness and threatened species richness maps for reptiles in order to show the key regions, taxa and threats by man that must be urgently targeted in order to conserve these species.

In total, 19% of all reptile species are threatened with extinction (see fig.1). Of this total, 12% are Critically Endangered, 41% are Endangered, and 47% are Vulnerable (in order of magnitude of danger, as categorised by the IUCN). Also, 7% of reptiles are in the Near Threatened category, meaning that they are likely to become threatened in the near future if measures are not taken to eliminate the threats they currently face.

Emerald Tree Boa photo via Shutterstock.

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