One in five reptiles worldwide is at risk of extinction, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal



The work focused on more than 10,000 existing species of turtles, crocodiles, lizards or snakes.

Conservation efforts aimed at other animals benefit reptiles, which “deserve the same attention,” according to Bruce Young, chief zoologist for the NGO NatureServe and co-author of the study.

“They are fascinating creatures that play an indispensable role in the planet's ecosystems,” insists his colleague Sean O'Brien, president of NatureServe.

Highly endangered forest reptiles

The study was carried out over more than 15 years and was signed by around fifty authors, supported by scientists from six continents.

Threatened species are listed in three categories: “vulnerable”, “endangered” or “critically endangered”, according to the Red List classification of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

According to the study, reptiles are proportionally less threatened than mammals or amphibians but more than birds.

Some regions are more exposed: south-east Asia, West Africa, northern Madagascar, northern Andes, the Caribbean.

Reptiles living in forests are more threatened (30% of them) than those living in arid environments (14%).

“Urgent and targeted” measures needed

Habitat loss remains the main threat.

Turtles and crocodiles are particularly concerned, victims of overexploitation and persecution, hunting for their meat, to domesticate them or for their alleged medicinal virtues.

The king cobra, now classified as vulnerable, is penalized by the disappearance of the forest in which it lives.

Climate change could directly threaten “10 or 11% of reptiles” according to the study, a figure probably underestimated.

“Urgent and targeted” measures are needed to protect reptiles, argue the authors of the study, especially “the lizards endemic to islands threatened by the introduction of predators” and those “more directly affected by humans”.


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  • Reptile

  • Threatened species

  • Snake

  • Tortoise

  • Crocodile

  • Animals

  • Climate change

  • Biodiversity

  • Planet