Pet trade threatens unusual lizard
© Ch'ien C. Lee/Rainforest Pictures of Tropical Asia

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Pet trade threatens unusual lizard

A strange monitor lizard from Borneo has become popular in the wildlife trade, which could threaten its existence, a conservation organization is warning in a new report. The rare earless monitor lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis) has remained obscure since the last research was conducted on it in the 1960s. It lives underground and has adaptations such as a lack of external openings for its ears and small eyes and limbs. The animals are officially protected in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, the countries that make up Borneo. But in the last 2 years, private collectors have begun selling specimens from the wild. TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network that is a partnership of conservation organizations, found the animals being offered for sale online in Europe. The organization says many of the lizards are being collected from the wild and smuggled out of Borneo and that the trade should be made illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. All other species of monitor lizard are protected by the convention.