(ORDO NEWS) — A fifth of all reptile species are threatened with extinction, with crocodiles and turtles the biggest threat, according to a new study.
This is the first study on this topic, involving almost a thousand scientists in 24 countries on six continents, and took 15 years to complete.
Similar global estimates for other classes of animals showed that 40.7 percent of amphibians, 25.4 percent of mammals and 13.6 percent of bird species are threatened with extinction.
“Many people don’t find reptiles attractive, and for the purpose of conservation, much more attention is being paid to furry or feathered vertebrate species,” said Bruce Young, chief zoologist and senior conservation scientist at NatureServe.
“Through this work, we advertise the importance of these creatures. They are part of the tree of life. Like any other, equally deserving of attention.
Bruce Young was one of the authors of the study, which was published this week in the journal Nature.
The main threat to reptiles is habitat loss caused by logging, agriculture and urbanization, as well as competition from invasive species.
Other factors have played a role for some species, such as their use in traditional medicine. The climate crisis also poses an uncertain problem, the study says. According to the study, the threats to reptiles were most acute in forested environments.
The study said that crocodiles and turtles were among the most at-risk species and needed targeted conservation efforts, with about 57.9% and 50% of them, respectively, estimated to be at risk.
The authors said the lack of data on reptiles and their habitat has limited conservation efforts, although the researchers noted that many of the measures taken to protect mammals, birds and amphibians will also protect reptiles.
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