Komodo dragon “one step closer to extinction”: IUCN Red List

Komodo dragonhanging over a tree sticking out his tongue
Komodo dragon, photo: David Clode on Unsplash

Indonesia’s Komodo dragons have been listed as “endangered” in an update of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

About 28 percent of the 138,000 animals and plants analyzed by the IUCN are might disappear in the wild forever, as the destructive impact of human activity on the natural world becomes bigger.

“The red list status shows that we’re on the cusp of the sixth extinction event,” the IUCN’s Head of Red List, Craig Hilton-Taylor, told AFP on Saturday. “If the trends carry on going upward at that rate, we’ll be facing a major crisis soon.”

Climate change is threatening the future of species more than ever before, particularly animals and plants that live uniquely on small islands or in certain biodiversity hotspots.

World’s largest lizards
Komodo dragons, the world’s largest living lizards, are found only in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park and neighbouring Flores.

The animal “is increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change”, said the IUCN: rising sea levels are expected to shrink its small living area at least 30 percent over the next 45 years.

Outside of protected areas, the animals are also rapidly losing ground as humanity’s footprint expands.

“The idea that these prehistoric animals have moved one step closer to extinction due in part to climate change is terrifying,” said Andrew Terry, conservation director at the Zoological Society of London.

Their decline is a “clarion call for nature to be placed at the heart of all decision making” at upcoming UN climate talks, he added.

Sharks are disappearing
The Red list revealed that 37 percent of 1,200 sharks and rays evaluated are now classified as directly threatened with extinction, falling into one of three categories: “vulnerable,” “endangered,” or “critically endangered”.

Five species of sawfish, whose saw-like snouts get tangled in fishing gear, and the iconic shortfin mako shark are among those most threatened.

Sharks and rays “are important to ecosystems, economies and cultures,” Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International, told AFP.

“By not sufficiently limiting catch, we’re jeopardising ocean health and squandering opportunities for sustainable fishing, tourism, traditions and food security in the long term,” she added.

Up to 100 million sharks and rays are caught each year across the globe, whether on purpose or by accident, as bycatch, in fisheries targeting other animals, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

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