Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wildlife Conservation: Iguanas, tree frogs added to endangered list

The United Nations is adding several reptiles and amphibians from Central America and Iran to its endangered species trade list overseen by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Guatemalan spiny-tailed iguana (photo) (Ctenosaura palearis) and other three species of iguanas native to central and south-eastern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula and Central America were added to the list by consensus yesterday at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under way in Doha, Qatar.

CITES – which now includes 144 member States – was created in 1975 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation and to prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction.

The iguanas are in demand for the international exotic pet trade, mainly in Europe and the United States. Their inclusion on the list means that governments can regulate their trade.

The CITES summit also adopted measures to protect a whole genus of tree frogs from Central and South America that is under pressure owing to habitat degradation and loss, and to a fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis.

In addition, the international commercial trade of a salamander endemic to Iran, known as the Kaiser’s newt (Neurergus kaiseri), is now prohibited.

Meanwhile, CITES voted against the protection of the commercially valuable precious pink and red corals in the family Coralliidae, comprised of more than 30 coral species.

Delegates voted against a similar proposal at The Hague three years ago.

They cited a lack of sufficient scientific evidence and the impact on the livelihoods of costal local populations depending on corals as the reasons for the opposing votes.