The psychedelic rock gecko is among dozens of species in need of further conservation protection in Vietnam
Further conservation measures are required to protect Vietnamese reptiles, such as the psychedelic rock gecko (Cnemaspis psychedelica), from habitat loss and overharvesting, according to a new report.
Having identified areas of high reptile diversity and large numbers of endangered species, the study provides a list of the 50 most threatened species as a guide for further research and conservation action in Vietnam.
The study, based on the bachelor thesis of Lilli Stenger (University of Cologne, Germany), recommends IUCN CPSG’s One Plan Approach to Conservation measures, which, next to improved habitat conservation, also involves increasing the number of threatened species in breeding stations and zoos to maintain populations suitable for restocking.
Co-authors of the report are Anke Große Hovest (University of Cologne, Germany), Truong Quang Nguyen (Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology), Cuong The Pham, (Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology), Anna Rauhaus (Cologne Zoo, Germany), Minh Duc Le (Vietnam National University), Dennis Rödder (Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change, Germany) and Professor Dr Thomas Ziegler (University of Cologne and Cologne Zoo, Germany).
Ziegler, Vietnam conservation team member and co-ordinator from Cologne Zoo, Germany, said: “Modern zoos, as well as local facilities, can play a crucial role in not only conducting or financially supporting in situ conservation projects, that is to say in Nature, but also by protecting species from extinction through maintaining ex situ assurance colonies to reinforce in situ conservation programmes.”
Appropriate conservation measures
The scientists identified 484 reptile species known to Vietnam, aiming to provide a baseline to authorities, conservationists, rescue centres, and zoos, so they can follow up with appropriate conservation measures for endangered species.
They note that the number is likely to go up, as the country is regarded as a top biodiversity hotspot, and the rate of new reptile species discoveries remains high.
According to the IUCN Red List, 74 of the identified species are considered threatened with extinction, including 34 endemic species.
For more than half of Vietnam’s endemic reptiles (85 of 159), the IUCN Red List status is either missing or outdated, and further research is imperative for these species, the researchers say.
Vietnam has a high level of reptile diversity and an outstanding number of endemic species.
The species richness maps in the study revealed the Central Annamites in central Vietnam to harbour the highest endemic species diversity (32 species), which highlights it as a site of particular importance for reptile conservation.
Alarmingly, a protected area analysis showed that 53 of the 159 endemic species (33.2%) including 17 threatened species, have been recorded exclusively from unprotected areas, such as the psychedelic rock gecko.
In General, Vietnam is considered a country with high conservation priority due to habitat loss and overharvesting for trade, traditional medicine and food.
Globally, reptiles are considered a group of special conservation concern, as they play an important role in almost all ecosystems and often have relatively small distribution ranges, making them especially vulnerable to human threats.
Image 1: The endangered psychedelic rock gecko (Cnemaspis psychedelica).
Image 2: The endangered Truong Son pit viper or Quang Binh pit viper (Trimeresurus truongsonensis).
Credit both images: Thomas Ziegler. CC BY.