Komodo dragon illustration

(Gabriela Mendoza / Daily Titan)

The harsh realities of a dire situation do not become apparent until ramifications are felt. For climate change, different ramifications are popping up frequently. Recently, climate change is on the path to claiming a new victim: the Komodo dragon population in Indonesia. 

Humanity has to be proactive in preserving the miniscule amount of roaming Komodo dragons left in the world. 

According to USA Today, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List classified the Komodo dragon as endangered in early September. With a remaining population of 1,383 mature individuals and an estimated 3,458 juveniles, the species shifted from the “vulnerable” category to “endangered.” 

The union for conservation has seven categories for species on which they have collected enough data: least concern, near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild and extinct.

Humanity has played a colossal part in endangering the largest living lizard in the world. Per a report from BBC’s “Discover Wildlife,” global warming and rising sea levels have drastically devastated the Komodo dragon habitat in Indonesia and will continue to wipe out the scaly giants.

On a global scale, rising temperatures have already wreaked havoc in some areas of the world due to rising sea levels. Coastal cities and island countries are at serious risk for flooding and habitat destruction at the hands of climate change. 

The islands of Indonesia are undergoing rapid and detrimental environmental transformations. The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that because of climate change, “Indonesia is predicted to experience temperature increases of approximately 0.8 degress Celsius by 2030. Moreover, rainfall patterns are predicted to change, with the rainy season ending earlier and the length of the rainy season becoming shorter.”

The rising sea levels and climate change in Indonesia are estimated to reduce the suitable habitat Komodo dragons can sustain by 30% over the next 45 years.

However, the diminished Komodo dragon population isn’t solely interlinked to climate change. According to BBC’s “Discover Wildlife,” human activity is to blame, citing agricultural expansion as another cause for habitat destruction.  

In an interview with “Discover Wildlife,” Andrew Terry, conservation director of the Zoological Society of London, observes the immediate need to conserve the Komodo dragon population. 

“The idea that these prehistoric animals have moved one step closer to extinction due in part to climate change is terrifying – and a further clarion call for nature to be placed at the heart of all decision making on the eve of the COP26 in Glasgow,” Terry said.

Besides the emotional argument of it being humans’ responsibility to care for all living organisms, the plausible extinction of Komodo dragons opens the door to a dangerous precedent and severe fallout.

If humanity abandons the plight of the Komodo dragon, a dangerous precedent is set when inevitably more species become endangered due to rising sea levels and climate shifts. Not only that, each species serves a purpose in the ecosystem. 

The Komodo dragon is a predator that helps maintain a balanced ecosystem in its region. When predators are removed, the issue of species overpopulation becomes relevant and more changes to that ecosystem arise.

Species conservation is more than rescuing animals — it is about preserving ecosystems that not only affect animal populations, but humans as well. Every living creature on Earth feels the chain reaction of extinction..

As with previous extinction threats, there are preventative measures. Aside from volunteering, the Los Angeles Zoo ensures Komodo dragons’ survival. Additionally, donating to a local zoo is a good start. 

Another institute that  researches into the care of Komodo dragons and other endangered species is the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. They recommend practicing ecotourism and volunteering with wildlife conservation foundations.

The Smithsonian also suggests shopping smart and to “avoid buying products made from animals, which could support poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.”

Other ways to help are through the Komodo Survival Program at komododragon.org and donating or getting involved with the Whitley Fund for Nature, a fundraising and grant-giving nature conservation charity.

The endangerment of the Komodo dragon population highlights the gravity of global warming. 

According to Climate.gov, there are a multitude of ways to hamper or halt the effects of climate change. This includes switching to renewable energy, driving electric cars, insulating our homes and using energy-efficient appliances, investing in manufacturing that draws down carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and supporting local businesses that practice eco-friendly measures. 

Climate change and ruinous human activities are solely accelerating the decline of the Godzilla-like lizard. But, with a tremendous amount of conservation efforts being propelled, the Komodo dragon can be saved from extinction. 

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