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19 Percent of World's Reptiles Slip into Extinction

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Feb 18, 2013 06:13 AM EST
19 Percent of the World Reptiles Slip into Extinction
On assessing 1,500 reptiles the study states that, 19 percent reptiles face extinction out of which nearly 12 percent are classified as critically endangered. (Photo : ZSL/ Michele Menegon)

A latest study from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) states that nearly 19 percent of the world's reptiles face extinction. This study was conducted in collaboration with experts from IUCN.

This is the first study of its kind that focuses on the global conservation status of reptiles. On assessing 1,500 reptiles, the study says that 19 percent reptiles face extinction, out of which nearly 12 percent is classified as 'critically endangered', 41 percent as 'endangered' and 47 percent is considered as 'vulnerable'. This assessment was conducted by nearly 200 experts.

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Dr. Monika Bohm, lead author on the paper said, reptiles are linked with extreme habitats and harsh environmental conditions; hence it is assumed that they will be fine in the changing world. For the everyday functioning, some species are highly specialized in terms of habitat use and the climatic conditions required. Such reptiles are very sensitive to environmental changes.

It was seen that 30 percent of the freshwater reptiles are close to extinction and may take a hike of up to 50 percent concerning freshwater turtles alone, as they are at a higher risk. The terrestrial reptiles face less threat. It was seen that six out of nine species of Anolis lizards in Haiti increased the risk of extinction, mainly due to deforestation.

"This is a very important step towards assessing the conservation status of reptiles globally," says Philip Bowles, coordinator of the Snake and Lizard Red List Authority of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

He continues to say that this study highlights the conditions of the species and the threat they face globally. Identifying the threats and dealing with them is important in order to reverse the declines in these reptiles.

This study intends to offer an indicator of biodiversity, both now and over time. Since reptiles play a vital role in the proper functioning of the world's ecosystems, as predator as well as prey, it is important to take effective steps to conserve them.

The study is published in the journal Biological Conservation.

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