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Tag Archives: Reptile Conservation

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Reptile and Amphibian Conservation in the USA – 2012 Update

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The global extinction crisis faced by amphibians has been much in the news in recent years, as have threats to sea turtles, Madagascar’s tortoises, Asia’s freshwater turtles and other long-suffering groups.  In the USA, a number of reptile and amphibian species are also in dire straits despite, in some cases, federal protection.  I hope this article inspires both hope and action in my many conservation-minded readers.

Unprecedented Agreement May Help 757 Species

Following a slew of lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the Federal government has agreed to speedily consider protecting an additional 757 native species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The CDB employs an attorney who deals solely with amphibians and reptiles, and the agreement is said to be “airtight” and legally enforceable. 

This agreement is an important step, as the ESA is our most powerful wildlife law.  Indeed, ESA listings have proven vital to the continued survival of many species.  For example, a recent CBD study of 110 ESA-protected species showed that 90% of them were recovering “on time”, according to the goals set at the original listing…not bad, considering what is happening to rhinos and other “protected” species elsewhere! Read More »

Lizard Conservation in the USA – 2012 Declared “Year of the Lizard”

Collared LizardHello, Frank Indiviglio here. The Partnership for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), a group comprised of private citizens, herpetologists, environmental organizations and others, has made great progress in the 10 years since its inception. 2011’s “Year of the Turtle” effort was especially effective in raising support for tortoise and turtle conservation. This year, the group has turned its attention to lizards, with an emphasis on North America’s many unique and imperiled species.

Lizard Conservation Overview

In the eye of the general public, lizards do not suffer the “image problem” that besets snakes, yet they lack the appeal of turtles and frogs. And so their conservation needs are, with few exceptions, not well-known. I sometimes wonder if the high visibility of a few common anoles and geckos in warm locales leads some (non-herp-oriented) people to regard lizard populations as relatively secure.  Read More »

Reptile Hobbyists – Helping or Hindering Reptile and Amphibian Conservation?

 Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manniHello, Frank Indiviglio here.While over-collection and poorly-prepared pet keepers have certainly led to declines in wild populations of some species, private hobbyists have also contributed immensely to the conservation of amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles (as well as fishes, birds and mammals).  This is especially true of those animals which zoos lack the interest or space to maintain…often the very creatures most favored by private keepers.

The Asian Turtle Crisis

A lack of funds and space in zoos led the establishment of the Turtle Survival Alliance, the largest turtle rescue effort ever launched.  The Alliance was organized in response to unprecedented declines in freshwater turtle populations throughout Asia – a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Asian Turtle Crisis. 

Soon after the group was formed, I traveled to Floridain the company of private and professional turtle enthusiasts to help rehabilitate and house nearly 10,000 turtles confiscated in China; many of the private sector people I met there now participate in rehabilitation and breeding initiatives in cooperation with zoos and museums. Read More »

Snake and Lizard Losses may Provide Evidence for a Global Reptile Decline

Western Diamondback RattlesnakeHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Studies in several countries recently hinted that snakes may be declining worldwide, in much the same manner as has been shown for scores of amphibian species (please see article below).  This month (October, 2010), scientists at the University of Arizona have documented massive declines in both snakes and lizards in a well-protected reserve, adding to fears that major extinctions lie ahead.

Frightening Similarity to Earlier Studies

Populations of 8 snake and 6 lizard species in Arizona’s Organ Pipe National Park were found to have declined by 50% between 1998 and 2002, and have not recovered.  The reptiles in question had been monitored carefully for 22 years, so accurate baseline numbers were available.  The species that showed significant declines included Regal Horned, Zebra-Tailed and Red-Back Whiptail Lizards, Mojave and Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Gopher Snakes and King Snakes. Read More »

Reptile Awareness Day – Lend Your Favorite Creatures a Helping Hand!

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Our favorite animals’ own holiday, Reptile Awareness Day (RAD), will soon be upon us. On Wednesday, October 21st, herp enthusiasts can participate by doing something special for reptiles – educate someone about reptiles, clean up a reptile habitat, do something special for your pet, make a donation to a conservation organization…the possibilities are endless.

The Bronx River as Herp Habitat?

I’ve been involved in a few such endeavors over the years. One of the most gratifying was in conjunction with Bronx River Restoration. Neighborhood children were recruited to help remove debris that had accumulated along that part of the Bronx River that passes through the Bronx Zoo. A surprising array of reptiles and amphibians (i.e. snapping, painted and musk turtles, green and bull frogs, dusky salamanders) live along the river, but they need a hand on occasion.

We also trimmed overgrown banks to let in sunlight and improve basking opportunities for resident Eastern painted turtles and added tree stumps to the shallows. On return visits to the river, the children were happy to see both turtles and water snakes utilizing the new basking spots.

Water Snakes in NYC

Another surprisingly effective project that I enjoyed was the reintroduction of northern water snakes to the banks of the Bronx River and nearby ponds. Working on conjunction with several wildlife agencies, I collected water snakes from approved areas and released several gravid females. I also held back a few animals for captive breeding, and released the young (1 huge female gave birth to 89 live young, a near record!).

I’m delighted to report that the water snakes are breeding in their new habitat. If this can be accomplished in the center of the country’s most densely populated city, just imagine the potential that exists elsewhere!

Please Note: Reintroduction programs must be carefully researched and approved by your state Fish and Wildlife Agency.

Have Fun, Help Reptiles and Win Prizes!

Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary, a reptile rescue and education organization located in Elizabethtown, PA, is sponsoring a contest in support of Reptile Awareness Day (RAD). So lending a hand to reptiles will not only feel good…it may just earn you some great prizes as well (Including a $50 gift card from That Fish Place/That Pet Place)!

To enter, simply post a note describing your “reptile friendly” good deed on Forgotten Friend’s site.

Radio Broadcasts

Anyone in the Central Pennsylvania area should be sure to tune in to the morning shows at FM 97 or WJTL FM 90.3 on October 21st – Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary representatives will discuss their important work and suggest ways that we can help to make the world a better place for our reptile friends.

Amphibian Awareness Day?

We don’t have an Amphibian Awareness Day yet, but please don’t forget that frogs, salamanders and caecilians also need a hand. As you can see from the photo, even the youngest herpetologists among us can express real tenderness towards small creatures (the sturdy little fellow pictured here usually goes through life like a bulldozer!). Children are the conservationists of the future – include them in your hobby if at all possible.

The more we learn about reptiles, the more we can do on their behalf. Please check out the many reptile and amphibian articles posted on our blog, and be sure to write in with your own observations, questions and ideas.

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

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