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Sri Lanka calls for increased protection for endemic lizards

18 / 04 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Sri Lanka will push for international protection of its endemic lizards threatened by smuggling when it hosts a global biodiversity trade summit next month. When the 18th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP18) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convenes in Colombo from May 23, the host nation will be seeking to get several lizard species included in Appendix I, which lists species threatened with extinction. Leading herpetologist and author Anslem de Silva told Mongabay that despite strong legal protection, there had been several recent attempts to smuggle endemic lizards out of the island. “It would be important to enhance protection for species other than the most exotic or best-known,” he said. “The value of those proposed for inclusion in Appendix I is tremendous.” He added there needed to be strict enforcement of the island’s conservation laws to prevent smuggling of species. De Silva who has worked on amphibian and reptile conservation for decades, said the Knuckles Mountain Range and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, both in central Sri Lanka, formed two very important ecosystems, specially for lizards. Samantha Gunasekera, director of the Colombo-based CoP18 Secretariat, said a push for protection would be timely. “It is a good move to list some of the endemic lizard species in Appendix 1. Sri Lanka is a biodiversity hotspot and there is a need to introduce multiple layers of protection for the species,” he told Mongabay. A former head of the biodiversity unit of the island’s…

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