"There is so much to do to protect pythons and boas,” says Tomás Waller, Chair of the new IUCN Species Survival Commission Specialist Group dedicated to these species. Here he talks about their threats and what needs to be done to ensure a future for these iconic reptiles.
Love them or hate them, snakes play an important ecological role but face a host of threats. Habitat loss, hunting for the pet and skin trade, or for medicine and food; invasive species; climate change; and they themselves being invasive species, are some of the problems that boas and pythons face every day.
Widely distributed, these species remain in the tropical and subtropical areas of most continents, comprising a large number of small and unusual varieties in addition to several impressive giant snakes. So far around 40 boas, pythons and related species have been assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and about 14 species are already included in the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
The new Specialist Group already faces big challenges says Waller: Promote responsible consumption, raise awareness about the importance of conserving these species, and involve local communities in the sustainable use and management of these species.
With around 60 members, the Boa and Python Specialist Group brings together scientists and conservationists from around the world to provide expert opinion and advice, develop research, build capacities, share experience and disseminate knowledge.
“Snakes are not always well received by society. So it is necessary to increase understanding that these species deserve to coexist with us on Earth”, says Waller.
The Boa and Python Specialist Group is affiliated with IUCN Member Fundación Biodiversidad, based in Argentina.