Komodo dragons, the world’s largest reptiles, are heading toward extinction, warns the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which has reclassified the species from “vulnerable” to “endangered” on its Red List.
“It’s moving toward extinction,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, a biologist with the IUCN, told the New York Times.
While many of the world’s Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) occupy Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, where the population is stable and protected, suitable areas for them are expected to shrink by at least 30% in the next 45 years due to in part to rising temperatures and sea levels associated with climate change. A population on neighboring Flores island faces additional threats from urbanization and agriculture.
Between 5,000 and 8,000 Komodo dragons were alive 25 years ago. IUCN estimates put today’s population at 1,380 adults and 2,000 juveniles.