Every fifth reptile is threatened with extinction – Wikipedia

There is no doubt that there are creatures more beloved than reptiles. Turtles, considered a symbol of longevity and wisdom, still have a relatively good image. On the other hand, most people are afraid of snakes, as well as crocodiles that lurk in the water for their unsuspecting prey. This may be one reason why even conservationists have so far neglected this group of animals.

Unlike mammals, birds, and amphibians, there are only a few species protection projects for reptiles, write the authors of a study published in the current issue of the journal Science. temper nature He appeared. For the study, scientists from 24 countries worked together to find out just how vulnerable this group of animals was at all – thus creating a basis for future conservation projects.

According to their findings, at least 21 percent of all reptiles worldwide are threatened with extinction, or about one in five species. Even worse are crocodiles, with 57.9 percent of all species under threat, and turtles, half of which struggle to survive. Basically, it seems that forest-dwelling reptiles have the biggest problems. According to the study, 30 percent of these species are threatened with extinction. As for the species found in deserts and steppes, 14 percent of them are threatened with extinction.

To find out, the scientists compiled data from more than 10,000 different species of reptiles and evaluated them according to the same criteria used in the Red List of Threatened Species published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is not only taken into account the number of specimens of the existing species – in any case it is impossible to count exactly all the animals. Important criteria are also how wide the distribution area is and how quickly the species can reproduce.

But what are the causes of decline in this highly diverse group of animals, which include turtles that breathe through their reproductive organs and chameleons no bigger than chickpeas? “Because reptiles are so diverse, they also face many different threats,” says Neil Cox of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one of the study’s authors. However, the main factors responsible for the decline are the same as those affecting mammals, birds and amphibians, as stated in temper natureAgriculture, deforestation, urban development, and invasive species. According to the authors, it is still unclear what role climate change will play in the decline of reptiles. What is clear, however, is that most threats, as with other animals, are associated with humans.

The forest skunk has recently become extinct on Australia’s Christmas Island

The good news is that because of this, conservation projects for other animal classes, such as the more common mammals, also indirectly benefit reptiles. Where forests are preserved for orangutans, for example, the snakes that live there are better off than anywhere else. “I was surprised by how well mammals, birds and amphibians were able to act as a substitute for reptiles,” says ecologist Bruce Young, who helped lead the study. “The often arduous efforts to protect well-known animals have helped protect many reptiles as well.”

But in order to prevent the extinction of many reptiles, the authors believe that there should be special protection projects for this group of animals in the future. For example in Australia, where ten percent of all species of reptiles live on Earth. It wasn’t until 2017 that Christmas Island’s forest skunk Emoia nativitatis, a lizard that was still common there until 1979, became extinct.

Evolutionary biologist Blair Hedges of Temple University in Philadelphia, who was involved in the study, says reptiles are also critically threatened on the Caribbean islands. In Haiti, for example, where people have already cleared 97 percent of forests.

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