By James A. Foley
Southeast Asian monitor lizards are facing a significant population threat fueled by the unsustainable trade of the reptiles as pets and a growing market for their colorful skins.
A team of German and Indonesian scientists recently published a comprehensive study on the conservation and threatened status of all known species of monitor lizards known in Southeast Asia and called for a revision of approved export quotas and more regulation in the trade of the reptiles.
Although all monitor lizards are protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), the researchers report the trade of monitor lizards is poorly monitored, with export quotas frequently ignored.
Authorities responsible for regulating trade of monitor lizards often do not have adequate knowledge about the reptiles. "For that reason, we created a comprehensive identification key of all monitor lizard species of the study region including many photographs," said Evy Arida from the Indonesian National Natural History Museum, who also co-authored the study. "This key shall assist the management authorities and customs to improve the enforcement of current legislations in order to warrant sustainable conservation of Indonesian monitor lizards."
Skins of monitor lizards are the third highest demanded type of reptile skin, behind crocodilian and giant snakes, according to a news release from the Hemholtz Center for Environmental Research. Much of the trade is illegal, yet it persists in spite of national and international laws and regulations in place to prevent it. More....