Komodo monitor lizard has become an endangered species

Komodo monitor lizard has become an endangered species
Komodo monitor lizard has become an endangered species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has published the second update of the lists in a year. Most notable news is the rise in conservation status of the Komodo monitor lizard, the largest lizard in the world. If earlier this species belonged to the category of vulnerable, now it has become endangered. The reason for the revision of the status was the forecast according to which in the next 45 years Komodo monitor lizards will lose at least 30 percent of their range due to sea level rise caused by anthropogenic climate changes. In addition, the proportion of sharks and rays that are endangered has increased to 37 percent. At the same time, the number of four tuna species increased thanks to the introduction of catch quotas and the fight against poaching.

Since the middle of the last century, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has maintained a list that contains information on the situation of tens of thousands of biological species. Contrary to the popular idea, it includes not only rare and endangered representatives of flora and fauna, but also those that are not yet endangered. The IUCN list is updated several times a year: experts add new species to it and revise the status of those already included.

Conservation statuses of IUCN, ranging from Extinct (EX) and Naturally Extinct (EW) to Least Concern (LC).

The first update of the list this year came out in March. Then experts decided to divide African elephants into two species: savannah (Loxodonta africana) and forest (L. cyclotis). The first was given the status of an endangered species (EN), and the second - a species on the verge of complete extinction (Critically Endangered, CR). In addition, the position of a number of primate and bats, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates and plants has been revised.

In early September, IUCN released its second list update in a year. The most notable difference from the previous version was the revision of the status of the Komodo monitor lizard (Varanus komodoensis), the world's largest lizard (adults of this species grow up to three meters in length and weigh about 70 kilograms). Until recently, these reptiles were classified as vulnerable species (Vulnerable, VU) - mainly due to the fact that their current range is limited to four small islands in the east of Indonesia. In addition, experts were worried about the decline in the number of monitor lizards on the island of Flores, where local residents are actively deforestation (while the populations on the islands of Komodo, Rincha and Gili Motang, which are part of the Komodo National Park, were considered stable).

However, now zoologists have found that the Komodo monitor lizards are threatened by a new problem - anthropogenic climate change. Rising sea levels associated with melting glaciers will put a significant portion of the lizards' current range under water, according to last year's study. As a result, in the next 45 years, the species will lose at least 30 percent of its habitats. Based on this alarming forecast, IUCN experts have decided to raise the status of the Komodo dragon to “endangered”.

Also, the update of the list affected sharks and rays, which are severely affected by mass catches, habitat destruction and climate change. Since the current revision of the statuses, 37 percent of their species have become endangered, that is, in categories from “vulnerable” to “critically endangered”.

However, the update brought more than just bad news. The conservation status of five species of tuna (Thunnus) has been downgraded - in other words, these valuable commercial fish are less endangered than previously thought. Thus, thanks to the introduction of a system of catch quotas and the fight against poaching, stocks of common tuna (T.thynnus) (a species from the “endangered” category moved to the “species of least concern” (Least Concern, LC)), Australian tuna (T. maccoyii) (from “critically endangered” to “endangered”), longfin tuna (T. alalunga); and yellowfin tuna (T. albacares) (the latter two have received Least Concern status).

In addition, Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis), which was previously a vulnerable species, has now received Near Threatened (NT) status. Its status was revised due to new data on the population size. However, experts acknowledge that, despite improvements at the species level, some local tuna populations continue to suffer from overfishing.

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