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Scaly and with forked tongues, Komodo dragons are the largest lizards still walking on Earth.
But their days here may be numbered.
A new report from an international biodiversity conservation organization says the dreaded reptiles are approaching global extinction.
According to the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a health assessment of tens of thousands of species around the world, Komodo dragons have gone from “vulnerable” to “endangered. “.
Why the Komodo dragon – or Varanus komodoensis – so threatened? Climate change.
Rising global temperatures and rising sea levels, according to the IUCN, will reduce the habitat of the Komodo dragon by at least 30% over the next 45 years.
“The idea that these prehistoric animals have come close to extinction in part because of climate change is terrifying,” said Dr Andrew Terry, director of conservation for the Zoological Society of London.
Komodo dragons are originally from Indonesia and only live in Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as on the nearby island of Flores, according to the IUCN.
“While the subpopulation of Komodo National Park is currently stable and well protected, Komodo dragons outside the Flores protected areas are also threatened by significant habitat loss due to ongoing human activities,” said the report.
Sharks and rays face major threats
The Red List update, released on Saturday and a day after the start of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, brings more bad news.
Of the shark and ray species tracked by IUCN, around 37% are now threatened with extinction.
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All of these endangered species are overexploited, according to the group, while some also face habitat loss and are affected by climate change.
It demonstrates the failure of governments to properly manage these populations in the world’s oceans, according to the IUNC, but the report also includes a major achievement in species management.
Rebirth of endangered tuna species offers hope
Of the seven most commercially fished tuna species, four of them – including albacore and bluefin tuna – showed signs of recovery in the last assessment.
According to the IUNC, the improvement of these species is the result of successful efforts to combat illegal fishing and enforce more sustainable fishing quotas.
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âThese Red List assessments are proof that sustainable fishing approaches work, with huge long-term benefits for livelihoods and biodiversity,â said Dr Bruce Collette, chair of the Tuna Specialist Group. and billfish from the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “Tuna species migrate thousands of kilometers, so it is also essential to coordinate their management on a global scale.”
Still, the group says many regional tuna populations remain significantly depleted in part due to overfishing.