The Komodo dragon is now listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as the species face increasing threats from the impacts of climate change.
In the latest update of their Red List published over the weekend, the IUCN said that the world’s largest living lizard has been moved from the “vulnerable” category to “endangered.” The survival of the species, which is endemic to Indonesia, is threatened by rising global temperature and subsequent sea levels. These factors are expected “to reduce the Komodo dragon’s suitable habitat by at least 30% in the next 45 years.”
Komodo dragons currently inhabit the Komodo National Park and neighbouring Flores island, both in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). Though the subpopulation at the park is currently stable and well-protected, IUCN said that Komodo dragons outside the protected areas are threatened by significant habitat loss due to ongoing human activities, including agricultural expansion.
Furthermore, IUCN said that efforts to smuggle these live animals out of Indonesia in what appears to be pet trade, have recently been recorded.
The Komodo National Park is home to around 2,800 Komodo dragons, according to official data from 2018. Ongoing developments and future plans in the park have made headlines, the latest of which being a plea from UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to halt infrastructure projects due to concerns over their environmental impacts.