Protection of the endangered Chinese crocodile lizard
by Xinhua writers Che Xiaohui, Li Xiongying and Zhang Yisheng
GUANGZHOU, May 27 (Xinhua) – Summer is back in southern China, bringing with it abundant sunshine and heavy rainfall, awakening the spirit of Chinese crocodile lizards in Luokeng Nature Reserve in Shaoguan, China. Guangdong Province.
“After more than four months of hibernation, it’s time for the rare reptile to mate and reproduce,” said Liu Haiyang, a researcher who has been studying Chinese crocodile lizards for more than six years.
Endemic to southern China and Vietnam, the ancient reptile, as old as the dinosaur, lives mainly in subtropical forests near freshwater ponds and slow-moving streams. The lizard gets its name from its muscular body and tail that resembles that of a crocodile.
The semi-aquatic creature spends most of its time in damp and cool places, Liu said, adding that the lizard prefers lush vegetation, especially trees with branches overlooking streams, which can provide shelter and protection. .
The colorful species has been listed as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species and is under first-rate national protection.
“Lizards are the last surviving species of their genus and family, dating back over 100 million years, so they deserve extra protection to maintain biodiversity,” said He Nan, senior researcher at the nature reserve. .
Luokeng Nature Reserve has established three stations with more than 60 people tasked with protecting lizard habitat.
Special areas have also been set up in the reserve to study its flea rearing and implantation technology in order to increase its survival rate and reintroduction success rate.
Scientists conducted a field survey in 2020 and found 121 Chinese crocodile lizards and estimated their total population in the region to be between 770 and 887, an increase of over 30% from 2012, according to Liu. .
After decades of efforts devoted to protecting the rare species since it was first discovered in this area by scientists in 2001, its wild population in China has grown from around 700 to 1,200, Liu noted, adding that the reserve had released 150 artificially propagated. Chinese crocodile lizards in the wild since 2009.
“The first batch of reptiles released are in good condition and have come of age. We even found that they reproduced, which is a good indication of the success of the reintroduction,” He said.
“We have shifted our focus from genetic rescue to maintaining its population as the number of Chinese crocodile lizards has been on the rise,” He said. “The main purpose of artificial reproduction has also changed from reintroduction to scientific research.”