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21% of reptiles threatened or endangered

Updated: May 19, 2022

About 21 percent of reptile species are at risk of extinction, because human activities are damaging their habitats. Agriculture, urban development and logging are altering habitats that reptiles depend on. Tiny geckos to massive turtles and crocodilians, and king cobras are in trouble. The research (Cox et al. 2022) was published Wednesday (April 27, 2022) in Nature. The collapse of ecosystems threatens biodiversity and humans. Among reptiles, particularly hard hit are turtles, with almost 60% of species at risk of extinction, and 50% of crocodilians, with half. In addition to habitat loss, both groups are depleted by hunting and fishing.

This year, nations of the world are tackling biodiversity loss. While the threats to species are clear — razing forests for beef cattle and palm oil, for example — it is much harder for countries to agree on how to stop them. A gathering in Geneva last month ended in frustration for many scientists and advocates, who described a lack of urgency from governments after two years of pandemic-related delays. Organizers added another meeting in June in hopes of making progress before the final one in Kunming, China, later this year.

The research identified hot spots for imperiled reptiles in Southeast Asia, western Africa, northern Madagascar, the northern Andes, and the Caribbean.

Eastern Indigo Snake, Drymarchon couperi

Cox N, Young BE, Bowles P. et al. 2022. A global reptile assessment highlights shared conservation needs of tetrapods. Nature.
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