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Study documents how Sri Lanka’s protected reptiles are traded as pets

22 / 04 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

A new study has shed light on how rare lizards found only in Sri Lanka are winding up in Europe as part of the illegal trade in exotic wildlife. The publication of the paper by the wildlife trade monitoring NGO TRAFFIC comes just as Sri Lanka prepares to host the 18th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in May. Highlighting patterns of wildlife trafficking and poaching, researchers Jordi Janssen and Anslem de Silva assess the growing online commercial trade of protected species as pets. The paper, titled “The presence of protected reptiles from Sri Lanka in the international commercial trade,” identifies a high diversity of wildlife, including 219 reptile species, many of them endemic to the tropical island’s multitude of natural ecosystems that include forests, grasslands, sand dunes, wetlands and mangroves. “Through the study, we came to understand that Agamid lizards are extremely popular as pets and are regularly offered for sale. Some of them are sold for over $1,000,” said de Silva, a senior herpetologist and author. De Silva told Mongabay that Agamid lizards, a family of reptiles also known as dragon lizards, were popular for three reasons: they are attractive, slow moving, and easy to maintain. “They don’t make rapid movements and can survive on a variety of foods, making them popular among pet owners,” he said. The international pet trade has taken a new face with online sales, particularly targeting Sri Lankan reptiles, said…

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