Invasive Species, Climate Change Threaten Australia’s Reptiles– IUCN Red List

The update of Red List states that Australia’s lizards and snakes vulnerability to invasive alien species, which includes the poisonous feral cats and Cane Toad. Philip Bowles, Coordinator of IUCN SSC Snake and Lizard Red List Authority said that these species have a threat from habitat loss due to invasive development, weeds, and fire. If there will be a proper understanding of the threats caused to each and every Australia’s reptile species then it will help the organisation to work effectively with the local conservation groups, the Australian government and also the Aboriginal people.

Eastern bearded dragon
Eastern bearded dragon

In 1932, another widespread species was introduced to Australia, which tends to threaten Australia’s reptiles known as Toxic Cane Toad. The species which has entered the Red List as critically endangered is Mitchell’s Water Monitor aka Varanus Mitchell. The rise in the arrival of Toads has led to the decline in the population of Varanus Mitchell in some areas and the percentage is 97. The reptiles of Australia are exposed to the poison produced by the Cane Toad as Australia has no local or original toads or species that offer the same type of toxin.

Moreover, climate change is also somehow responsible for threatening Australia’s reptiles. The reptiles include a cold-adapted species found only on the summit of Queensland’s tallest mountain, Vulnerable Bartle Frere Cool-skink (Techmarscincus jigurru), and Mount Bartle Frere. A total loss of 50% of the Cool-skink’s population is there with just 1°C increase in temperature and this has been recorded within 30 years. The animals have no cooler areas to migrate to.

The rising threats faced by Australia’s reptiles from the invasive species and heavy climate change have come to 7% threatened with extinction. After a complete survey of the continent’s reptiles, the IUCN Red List revealed the above updates. Moreover, the Red List also includes 975 reptile species of Australia, which includes almost all of Australian reptiles out of which majority are endemic.

The primary threat to the survival of more than half of these endangered reptiles is invasive species. In a recent study done, it was estimated that about 600 million reptiles are killed each year by the invasive feral cats only. Grassland Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) is one of the many species of reptile killed by feral cats. This killing has moved them from Vulnerable to the Endangered category. All these changes to the frequency of fires and the intensity are produced by a combination of the loss of traditional indigenous burning practices and invasive weeds and also agricultural management that adds more to the threat of this species. The Grassland Earless Dragon is naturally changed to the semi-natural wildfire patterns like many Australian species that were in their place before European settlement.

Different reptiles present in Australia, which are developed in isolation from other parts represents around 10% of the world’s reptile fauna. Moreover, these animals are very much important for the success of the food chain and also the environment. Australian reptiles are an essential part of the Australian culture for the native people. They particularly include carnivorous and frugivorous lizards and pythons and these are used s emblems also and in food as well as storytelling.

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