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EU market a factor as Sri Lanka pulls its punches on protection for lizards

06 / 10 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

COLOMBO — With its spectacular green coloration and reddish eyes set behind a knob-like snout, the hump-nosed lizard (Lyriocephalus scutatus) is probably Sri Lanka’s most charismatic reptile. But that beauty comes at a cost: the hump-nosed is regularly targeted by smugglers for the illegal trade in exotic pets. The hump-nosed is an agamid, or iguanian, lizard, a family that includes more than 300 species. Sri Lanka is home to 23 of these species, 20 of which are found nowhere else on Earth — including L. scutatus. Prior to 1993, Sri Lanka allowed the legal export of wild-caught agamid lizards, but banned the trade with the passage of the country’s Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. In August, Sri Lanka had the opportunity to boost protection for several agamid species by calling for a complete international ban on their trade, at a global wildlife trade summit. Instead, the country pulled back at the last minute, amending some of its proposals to water down the protections it was seeking and even withdrawing one proposal covering two endemic agamids. Hump-nosed lizard (Lyriocephalus scutatus), Sri Lanka’s largest endemic agamid lizard, courtesy of Ruchira Somaweera. Pressured to pull back? Going into the 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which took place in Geneva in August, Sri Lanka had proposed increased trade protections for 10 agamid species. Its four proposals, aimed at getting the lizards listed in CITES Appendix I, and thereby prohibiting their international trade, covered the…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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