Project Heloderma: Saving the Guatemalan Beaded Lizard

The story of Project Heloderma sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster; a young, idealistic scientist who teams up with a grizzled and cynical animal smuggler to bring a virtually unknown creature back from the edge of extinction. The difference is, this time it’s all true – and, incredibly, …

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Reintroducing Britain’s Rarest Snake: A Case Study

After an absence of more than half a century, Britain’s rarest reptile, the Smooth Snake ( Coronella austriaca) is set to return to Devon as part of a project undertaken by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, the RSPB and the local conservation trust. These rare and secretive snakes were last …

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Conserving the Endangered Blue Iguana: A Case Study

The work of the Cayman Islands’ Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP) in rescuing one of the world’s rarest and most threatened reptiles from the edge of extinction, ranks high amongst the greatest conservation success stories of modern years. Long thought to be simply a subspecies of the Cuban Iguana ( …

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The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust: A Case Study

About 25 miles south of the city of Chennai, nestling beside the Bay of Bengal, there lies a small patch of ground where you’ll find the highest number of crocodiles per square yard in India – and probably anywhere on the planet. You’d be forgiven for thinking that most of …

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Breeding Dragons in Captivity: A Case Study

Reaching a length of up to 10 feet (3m) and an average weight of 10 stones (64kg) or more, the world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) bears more than a passing similarity to the fire-breathing reptile of legend. Native to the island of Komodo and the neighbouring …

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The Giant Tortoises of the Galapagos: A Case Study

Of all of the unique species to be found on the Galapagos islands, the giant (Geochelone nigra) – the world’s largest tortoise – is probably the best known and certainly the most instantly recognised. Believed to have evolved from a single ancestral type of tortoise, before the arrival of humans …

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The Case of the Escaped Corn-Snake: A Case Study

The Corn Snake (Elaphe guttata) has long been a popular pet with reptile keepers. Its characteristically docile nature, uncomplicated demands and relatively modest size make this native of the southern states of the USA an ideal candidate – and it seems to respond well to captivity, with a life expectancy …

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Discovering Butikaw a New Species of Monitor: A Case Study

For the most part, animals that are new to science tend to be fairly small; it’s being little and relatively inconspicuous amongst the undergrowth that allows them to avoid detection for so long, despite the relentless incursions of humans into their natural habitats. The novel discovery of large species, particularly …

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Bringing ‘Dragons’ Back to Wales: A Case Study

You could be forgiven for thinking that the only dragons you’re likely to see on a trip to the Welsh coast are the ones on the road signs that say “Croeso y Cymru/Welcome to Wales” – or the distinctive flags that flutter from buildings along the way. With the work …

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Saving the World’s Rarest Snake: A Case Study

It’s not often that any animal can be said to have been brought back from extinction, but in the case of the Antiguan racer (Alsophis antiguae), it is quite literally true. Once widespread across Antigua in the Caribbean’s Leeward Isles, the population of these harmless, metre-long snakes was decimated by …

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