North Texas Daily

Calling for more protection on reptiles

Calling for more protection on reptiles

Austin Banzon

Calling for more protection on reptiles
January 23
10:59 2018

When you hear the term “endangered species,” often images of polar bears, tigers and elephants come to mind. But these adorable animals are given protections that extend to few species, especially those that are not considered conventionally cute.

Reptiles and amphibians are often ignored in the fight for protection.

This may be due to the fact they are not usually considered “adorable.” They are not fuzzy, they prefer food most would find unpalatable and they certainly do not like to snuggle.

Currently, the earth is undergoing the largest mass extinction seen in the last 65 million years.

Unfortunately, this means many of the species we share the planet with are at risk. The Environmental Species Act, or ESA, has made great strides in the effort to prevent continued extinction of many species.

Since the establishment of the ESA in 1973, the effort has lost nine species. Continued efforts have sustained more than 2,000 other species.

Our scaly friends are an essential part of the food chain. As noted in “Dying For Protection,” an informational PowerPoint published by the Center of Biological Diversity, some reptiles and amphibians “serve as predators that keep prey numbers in check, such as snakes that eat mice and other rodents. Others are prey, including frogs, that serve as a food source for many species of birds, fish, mammals and reptiles. Amphibians are important in the control of insect pests such as mosquitoes.” In addition to environmental maintenance, “the presence of lizards and snakes even helps reduce exposure of Lyme disease to humans.”

As noted in a 2012 article by conservationist Collette Adkins Giese, “Scientists estimate that about 25 percent of the nation’s amphibians and reptiles are at risk of extinction.”

Unfortunately, we protect a mere fraction of that. “Only 58 of the approximately 1,400 US species protected under the Endangered Species Act are amphibians and reptiles.” These species are woefully underrepresented and continue to decline.

To participate in activism on behalf of amphibians and reptiles, be sure to educate yourself and your friends.

In addition, be sure to spread awareness about both the plight and the necessity of our scaly friends. Their services are essential for a balanced ecosystem and to sustain biodiversity on our planet.

Lastly, support a conservation project. It’s easy to find a project dedicated to your favorite snakes or lizards. Don’t be afraid to help support with donations, volunteer work and more.

Featured Image: Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Sean Rainey

Sean Rainey

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