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Caribbean News Service, January 11, 2016

Rare Caribbean Lizards on the Verge of Extinction

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Jan 11 2016 – The US Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday announced that seven species of Caribbean skinks or lizards may qualify for Endangered Species Act protection.

The rare lizards from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are on the knife’s edge of extinction due to introduced predators and habitat destruction.

“The Endangered Species Act can save these skinks,” said Collette Adkins, a Center biologist and lawyer who works to protect reptiles and amphibians. “We can best deal with the habitat loss and invasive predators that threaten to wipe out these skinks by getting them protected under the Act. This announcement means they’re one step closer to getting the protections they need.”

The lizards, along with several others were first identified by scientists in a 2012 study.

“The Caribbean is home to extremely rare animals found nowhere else in the world, but too many are threatened with extinction,” said Dr. Blair Hedges of Temple University, the lead author of the 2012 study that first recognised the lizards. “I’m glad that the Fish and Wildlife Service is moving these lizards toward Endangered Species Act protection. We need to protect them before it’s too late.”

Three of the species included in today’s finding are found within the territory of Puerto Rico. The remaining four are found in the Virgin Islands.

Included in the petition but not the finding issued on Monday, were the Monito skink and Lesser Virgin Islands skink found in St. Thomas and two adjacent islets and several British Virgin Islands.

 

© 2015. Caribbean News Service. 

This article originally appeared here.

Jeffrey pine photo by John Villinski.