50% of all species of turtles and crocodiles are threatened with extinction

A new international study involving researchers from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has found that 21% of reptile species on Earth (one in five species), or a total of about 2,000 species , are threatened with extinction. Experts estimate that there are over 12,000 species of reptiles in the world.

The results of the study show that 30% of forest reptiles and about 14% of those living in arid areas are threatened, and that 58% of all turtle species and 50% of all crocodile species are endangered. ‘extinction. Researchers sadly point out that if all 1,829 species of turtles, crocodiles, lizards and snakes that have been found to be endangered do indeed disappear in the coming years, the world will lose a cumulative wealth of 15.6 billion years of evolution. . .

The comprehensive study, the first of its kind in history, was conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and included 52 researchers from around the world, including Professor Shai Meiri from the School of Zoology from Tel Aviv University, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Uri Roll from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. The study was published in the journal Nature.

The IUCN is an international organization whose role is, among other things, to assess the threat of extinction that weighs on various species. Each species of animal or plant is given a score on a five-point scale. The purpose of this ranking is to define the most endangered species, thus allowing decision-makers and various bodies, such as the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, to set policies accordingly.

IUCN has been working on the Reptile Report for 18 years, having invited experts in this taxonomic group from around the world to participate. In 2004, the IUCN published a comprehensive report on amphibians and, a few years later, reports on birds and mammals.

“In general, the state of reptiles in the world is bad,” says Professor Meiri. “It’s worse than that of birds and mammals, but not as bad as that of amphibians. And of course, there are many nuances. We see that turtles are in a worse position than lizards and snakes, but maybe that’s because we know more about turtles. Maybe if we knew more about snakes, we’d see that they too have big problems. Either way, the most great threat to reptiles is the destruction of their habitats due to agriculture, deforestation and urban development and less due to direct hunting, which mainly affects turtles and crocodiles.We have created detailed maps of these threats. For example, if a particular species is highly threatened in the Arava Desert of Israel, but not in the rest of its range which may extend throughout the Arabian Peninsula, then globally , it is not considered an endangered species. New assessments, for over 10,000 species of reptiles, will allow us to understand their conservation needs and hopefully allow us to find solutions for them that we have not been able to so far.”

Dr Uri Roll adds: “This is important work that forms the initial basis for risk assessment in various reptiles around the world, but it is certainly not the end of the story. We still lack a lot of information about the various risks faced by reptiles. For example, climate change is expected to have significant effects on reptiles. The current assessment just published does not yet include these future threats in its reptile risk assessments. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.

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Materials provided by Tel Aviv University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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