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 Post subject: The pigmy lizard's camouflaged path to extinction
 Post Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:43 pm 
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Location: Maharagama
The pigmy lizard's concealed and camouflaged path to extinction

Source: DM/ Thursday, September 06, 2007
By Rashmini de Silva


The great magnitude of Sri Lankan bio diversity is vividly mediated through the wide range of fauna and flora species subsisting here. Our island is renowned for its magnificent herpetological versatility arraying from docile tortoise and bantam lizard species to vehement vipers and belligerent crocodiles. Most reptiles here are confined to the central montane zone, where human encroachments and forest depletion are at its peak. Deforestation which subsequently dilates into habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation oppresses and subdues reptile populations vastly in Sri Lanka which induces drastic declination of these fascinating animals. In contrast with mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates, reptiles have the capability to optimize inadequate and wretched environmental circumstances and survive with resilience which could be the apparent reason for the existence of the amount of reptile species up to now. Despite numerous obstructions and hindrances reptile species exert on persisting, among these creatures, Agamid lizards are quite prominent.


Agamids are one of the most assorted and diverse groups of lizards living in our planet. They have been proliferating on earth for millions of years, adapting and adjusting to various eco logical conditions ranging from aquatic habitats to deserts and tropical forests. There are 350 estimated Agamid lizards in the world, when focusing on the agamid diversity in Sri Lanka, there are about 17 species found here. The endemic lizard species Cophotis ceylanica, commonly known as the Pigmy lizard is a representative of this majestic pervasive Agamidae group. This endemic creature is quite eminent among the other lizard species due to many reasons, not only this species, but also the genus of the pigmy lizard is endemic to our island and it is the sole living species of its genus.


Found in 1861, the Pigmy lizard grows up to about 5cm in length from snout to vent and is equipped with a prehensile tail. These lizards are known to be diurnal and their diet consists of small insects. C.ceylanica is restricted to the central montane region of our island where they dwell in high altitudes in dense forests in the vicinity of Nuwara Eliya, Horton Planes, Sri Pada and Hakgala. Finding pigmy lizard specimens in the wild is extremely scarce, they have been recorded inhabiting in moss covered areas and Pinus hedges. “In some instances these species are to be seen in pine hedges, at that point most people arrive to the conclusion that these species are quite common, but the truth is that the species density is dreadfully low inside the actual natural forests” claimed herpetology researcher, Mendis Wickramasinghe.


There are numerous forces and factors that impose severe threats to pigmy lizards. According to Mr. Wickramasinghe, as forests in the highlands started to get utilized at a tremendously accelerated rate, in order to comply with the ever rising, never ending necessities of humans, natural habitats in that area continuously kept on being eradicated rapidly for cultivation and settlement. Forests in the montane zone have been annihilated for cardamom plantations and other commercial crops. As a result of hastily escalating human inhabitance and interference in previously untouched natural forests, it attracted copious numbers of crows. This deteriorated the issue because crows started to feed on these small endemic species instigating a foremost unbalance of the eco system. The other main cause is road kills. At present the tourism industry has invaded to the Horton planes, and more tourists and locals stay in close proximity to forests where they disturb the natural life style of these species. The pigmy lizard is a very slow moving creature, ascribable to the facts of being clod blooded and dwelling in cold climates, they effectively maintain and the constancy of their body temperature by moving very slowly; this clever adaptation has its negative impacts as well because an exorbitant number of pigmy lizards are killed tragically by road accidents while crossing roads. The gradual rise of the repercussions of global warming also contribute largely to the subjugation of these species because, forest dry back is one of the main forces that has adverse effects on reptiles living in cold climates. Although notoriety of global warming is not quite apparent yet in Sri Lanka, this crisis is critically felt by species like the pigmy lizard because it alters humidity levels and debars moss growth in dense forests further mentioned Mr. Wickramasinge.


This highly threatened species is legally protected, under section 30 of the fauna and flora protection ordinance of Sri Lanka, killing, keeping in captivity, selling these animals or their body parts is considered as a serious offence, stated environmental lawyer, Jagath Gunawardhana. In order uplift and fortify the pigmy lizard population, captive breeding programs should be commenced and public awareness should be raised emphasizing on the significance of preserving this species and natural organic pesticides and fertilizers should be promoted among farmers, effective conservation management strategies should be initiated to obviate the extinction of this relict species.


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 Post Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:23 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:05 pm
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it's so sad to hear that global warming is affecting the pigmy lizards.
they are so cute - i have never seen one myself except in pictures - they're getting very hard to find now i suppose...

it's hard to believe how much damage global warming is causing to fauna and flora all around the world, and it's going to get worse and worse :cry:

Ritchie from TheReefTank


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