WASHINGTON (AP) – Even the king cobra is “vulnerable”. More than 1 in 5 reptile species worldwide is threatened with extinction, according to a comprehensive new estimate of thousands of species published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Of the 10,196 reptile species analyzed, 21 per cent were endangered, critically endangered or vulnerable to extinction, including the iconic hooded snakes of South and South-East Asia.
“This work is a very significant achievement – it adds to our knowledge of where endangered species are and where we need to work to protect them,” said Duke University environmentalist Stuart Pim, who was not involved. research.
Similar preliminary assessments have been conducted for mammals, birds and amphibians, which have informed government decisions on how to pursue national park boundaries and allocate environmental funds.
Work on the reptile study, which involved nearly 1,000 scientists and 52 co-authors, began in 2005. The project has been hampered by fundraising problems, said co-author Bruce Young, a zoologist at the nonprofit science organization NatureServe.
“Much more attention is being paid to the fluffy, feathery species of vertebrates for conservation,” Young said, lamenting the charisma rupture. But reptiles are also fascinating and necessary for ecosystems, he said.
The Galapagos Marine Iguana, the world’s only lizard adapted to marine life, is classified as “vulnerable” to extinction, said co-author Blair Hedges, a biologist at Temple University. He said it took lizards 5 million years to adapt to finding food at sea, complaining about how much “evolutionary history can be lost if this one species” is measured.
Six of the world’s species of sea turtles are endangered. Seventh is probably also in trouble, but scientists lack the data to make a classification.
Worldwide, the greatest threat to reptile life is habitat destruction. Hunting, invasive species and climate change also pose a threat, said co-author Neil Cox, manager of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. biodiversity evaluation unit.
Research has shown that reptiles that live in forested areas, such as the king cobra, are more prone to extinction than desert dwellers, in part because forests face greater human disturbances.