The world’s largest lizard has officially been placed on the “endangered species” list.
The Komodo dragon is a majestic, carnivorous reptile that can grow up to a whopping 10 feet. Their armored scales and venomous saliva can take down a variety of large prey, such as deer, horses, and even water buffalo. It’s an apex predator feared mostly for its extremely large size and unmatched strength.
Despite the impressive resume, the giant lizard has been on the International Union for Conservation of Natures (IUCN) “vulnerable” list for quite a while before it was finally moved to the Red List of Threatened Species earlier this week.
The culprit, as usual, is climate change.
According to the IUCN, rising temperatures and sea levels threaten the species’ habitat, which is projected to shrink by at least 30 percent in the next 45 years.
Endemic to the Southeast Asian country of Indonesia, Komodo dragons are most protected at the Komodo National Park. The UNESCO world heritage site boasts a healthy population of the reptiles, but not enough to save the species.
The nearby island of Flores, which also sees many Komodo dragons, has suffered much habitat loss in the name of urbanization and agriculture. On the island, the prehistoric animals have also had to compete with humans for their food sources, like deer and boar.
Conservationists fear that, with the current pace, the Komodo dragon will enter the critically endangered category and eventually see itself into the “extinct in the wild” label in the near future.
And they won’t be the only ones.
The IUCN has also stated that 37 percent of the world’s shark and ray species are now threatened with extinction due to overfishing, loss of habitat, and climate change. As of now, more than 38,500 species are sadly threatened with extinction.
Despite the dismal numbers, some scientists remain hopeful that quick steps will make a difference in the animals’ fate. “We still have a bit of time,” Gerardo Garcia, a conservation biologist at the Chester Zoo in England, said to New York Times.