Komodo Dragons Classified as Endangered, Headed Toward Extinction

Komodo dragon close upKomodo dragon close up
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Komodo dragons have been added to the IUCN's Red List in hopes of gaining natural habitat protections for the giant reptile.

Komodo dragons have been classified as endangered, and are on their way to being extinct in the wild. 

Previously, the giant lizards were considered vulnerable, but this new distinction is said to provide a push to expand protections for the animal’s natural habitat, according to The New York Times. 

“It’s had a genuine change in status, a deterioration,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the international group’s Red List unit, said to the Times.

“It’s moving toward extinction.”

Native to Indonesia, there are several of the dragons living in captivity — including within Indonesia’s Komodo National Park — but they are in danger as a result of poaching and land clearance that occurs in some of their naturally occupied areas. 

The Komodo dragons in the wild have substantially decreased. Twenty-five years ago, between 5,000 and 8,000 were living freely, but there are less than an estimated 4,000 today, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

The IUCN has said that suitable natural habitats for the Komodo dragon are projected to decrease over the next 45 years by at least 30%, according to the outlet.

In addition to poaching and land clearance, climate change is also a factor in this decline, due to the rising sea levels and increased global temperatures.

These factors place the reptiles in a position to drop past critically endangered, and only survive in captivity.  

“I think that would be an awful indictment,” Andrew Terry, a conservation director at the Zoological Society of London said to the Times. 

“Nobody working in a zoo is happy to see a species only existing in a zoo.”

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