Louisiana Exotic Animal Resource Network
Louisiana Exotic Animal Resource Network
Rescue Locally. Educate Globally.

Introduction to Herpetology Blog

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Herp Conservation

Reptiles and amphibians are in crisis. While there are still many species that are listed as “demonstrably secure” or of “least concern,” there are far too many that are in peril or endangered. 

It is well known that amphibians and Chelonians (turtles, tortoises, and sea turtles) have been in drastic decline for some time. The secretive and solitary nature of snakes has meant that their distribution and population densities have been poorly understood, but studies continue to confirm suspicions that serpents are also becoming fewer. Lizards, while seemingly more secure than other kinds of herps, nonetheless face their own difficulties.

This is a worldwide and alarming trend. There are many factors contributing to this decline.

Some major factors are:

Habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation 
(this is generally acknowledged to be the primary cause of wildlife decline)

Collection for food and pet trade

Climate change

Pollution including pesticides, hormones, and altered pH levels

Disease, e.g., Chytrid Fungi, Ranavirus, Mycoplasma agassizii in Gopher Tortoises, Snake Fungal Disease

Incidental (collateral) mortality, such as sea turtles caught in commercial fishing nets

Direct human interference, such as killing snakes on sight

Introduced species, e.g., cats, rats, and goats 
Some of these may be difficult for the individual naturalist to see a way to change. However, although these are global issues, change typically begins locally. If our goal is, as the saying goes, to “be the change we wish to see,” our successful efforts will often spread and gain traction. Regardless of what the rest of the world does, many of these items must be addressed locally each place they occur. Mitigation of invasive species, for example, can and should be addressed at the state or local level. Curbing the wanton and needless killing of harmless and beneficial animals such as snakes is behavior we can confront when we encounter it. The collection of wild herps for food and the pet trade puts tremendous pressure on local populations, and each state should work to carefully regulate this activity. Not to be overlooked is the option also to get involved with various global conservation organizations. There are many that could certainly use all the help they can get. 

Do not let being “just one person” deter you! The more we consider these issues, the more wisdom you will find in the adage, “Think Globally—Act Locally.”
Little Brown Skink photo by Ashley Tubbs
Little Brown Skink photo by Ashley Tubbs
At our current rate of growth, we are projected to have roughly twice the population on Earth in forty years than we had twenty years ago. Species lost during this expansion can never be recovered, so we should all be concerned with mitigating our impact.
Herp Conservation
November 19, 2018
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