A new report, released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature at the World Conservation Congress in Marseille, confirmed what conservationists have feared: Komodo dragons are facing extinction due to rising sea levels caused by global warming.
The IUCN hasn’t reported on the Komodo dragon (the world’s largest lizard) in two decades, but it’s now moved the giant reptile from the “vulnerable” classification to “endangered.”
Unfortunately, Komodo dragons rely on habitats near the sea. With sea levels expected to rise at least 30% over the next 45 years, according to The Guardian, the reptile’s habitat will be largely wiped out – and its wild populations with it.
The news came shortly after the release of a peer-reviewed paper, detailing the threats to the species. The paper noted that “urgent conservation actions are required to avoid risk of extinction.”
Beyond the threat from rising sea levels, Komodo dragons also face habitat loss due to human activity in unprotected areas in Indonesia.
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The Komodo dragon is native to just a number of Indonesian islands, where they live on the edge of forests or in open savannahs. They rarely travel further than 2,296 feet above sea level and are unable to move their habitat to higher ground.
According to the IUCN, it’s believed there are around 1,300 mature individuals left in the wild. Though their populations are presently stable, their habitat is anything but.
The Guardian reported that between 1970 and 2000, their habitat range on one island in south-eastern Indonesia, the island of Flores, shrunk by more than 40%.
With the new report regarding rising sea levels, it’s believed their habitat will shrink an additional 30+% across all islands.
Komodo dragons are currently protected by conservation efforts at Komodo National Park, but those populations that reside outside of the park are being decimated.
Speaking with The Guardian, a curator at Chester Zoo said, “Because of human pressure, the forest is slowly being cut down and disappearing, and the savannah is affected by fires and degradation. That is why the animals are really in small little pockets.” She continued, saying that the habitats are shrinking even more due to sea levels rising.
It’s troubling to think that since its discovery less than 100 years ago, Komodo dragons are already disappearing.
Often growing to up to three metres long and weighing up to 150kg, the Komodo dragon was only discovered by Europeans in the 1930s.
There is still a lot to learn about the giant lizards. Hopefully conservation efforts can preserve them for generations to come.Whizzco