JAKARTA: The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a governing body of nature conservation, has reclassified the Komodo dragon from vulnerable to endangered, as the rise in sea levels driven by the climate crisis shrink the habitat of the top-tier predator.
According to the updated ‘red list’ of IUCN, the surge in sea levels is set to affect the majority of its habitat in the next 4 to 5 decades. The animals join the tigers, basking sharks, and Asian elephants on the Red List.
The giant lizard is endemic to the world’s largest island country Indonesia, in the World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and neighboring Flores while only 1,400 adult reptiles are left in the world. The remaining lizards are split into eight subpopulations with the largest subpopulation containing less than 500.
The fierce hunters living outside of the protected areas in Flores are also threatened by ongoing human activities, including an agricultural expansion that results in the loss of their habitat. Furthermore, the dragons, living on Flores, are also being taken for the illegal trade for pets and zoos.
Earlier, the dragons were considered a rare species since debuting on the Red List in 1986 while it was redesignated as vulnerable in 1996, where it remained for the past 2.5 decades.
Let it be known that many species are continuing to move higher in elevation to track their preferred thermal environment, and with lesser space, the competition between them is mounting every day.
Some reports quoting experts said gene flow between different groups of dragons is very low, with the separate populations rapidly becoming genetically divergent from each other. The difference between the two groups of the lizard, the north Flores, and the Komodo National Park dragons, is huge that the IUCN report recommends managed the two populations separately with a view to conservation.
In a bid to save the dragons, breeding programs in national parks and zoos around the world are underway to maintain the species. Komodo Survival Program is working so dragons can coexist, while the authorities in the Island country also moved to restrict tourism to Komodo.
The carnivores, which can grow up to 10 feet, eat deer, pigs, and water buffalo, with a venomous bite to intoxicate their prey. They are equipped with a forked tongue, serrated teeth, armored scales, and venom-laced saliva.
The dominant predators can detect flesh from quote a distance. These fierce lizards become adults at the age of six, while females lay clutches of roughly 30 eggs, of which 20 are likely to hatch. However, two of these hatchlings are ever likely to reach adulthood. Females are even known to eat their own offspring.
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