Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why the Cyprus Grass Snake is NOT Red Listed?

December 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Why is the Cyprus Grass Snake NOT Red Listed?

What is the Red List and why is it important?

The European Red List is a review of the conservation status of c. 6,000 European species (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater fishes, butterflies, dragonflies, and selected groups of beetles, molluscs, and vascular plants) according to IUCN regional Red Listing guidelines.


It is supposed to identify those species that are threatened with extinction at the European level – so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.

It seems incomprehensible that the Cyprus Grass Snake is not Red Listed because it is listed in the EU LIFE Project for a captive breeding programme to be established in 2011.

So what has gone wrong here?  Does it matter? Yes, because it has not been Red Listed it is been overlooked for priority for action and is in real danger of imminent extinction.

It is extinct in Xyliatos and Paralimni and greatly endangered in the Troodos according to the Baier Wiedl paper of 2008.  There may have been then, only just up to 100 individuals surviving.

How many survive now?

We have asked the IUCN why it has not included the Cyprus Grass Snake in the Red List.

The explanation is as follows;

Many thanks for your email and many apologies that your previous emails to IUCN have gone unanswered. I am not sure who those emails went to, but they do not appear to have reached the IUCN Red List Unit.

 At present we have two assessments for the Grass Snake on the IUCN Red List:

1)      An old 1996 global listing for the species as a whole – see http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/14368/0  (this includes its European and Asian range) and under that are two old subspecies listings, but these do not include N. n. cypriaca. These global listings are all long over-due for updating, but we do not have the resources in place for this at present.

 2)      The European Regional assessment for the Grass Snake – see http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/14368/1 which was done in 2009. Unfortunately the European Reptile Assessment was focussed purely at the species level and did not consider separate subspecies listings at all. I see that the account does make some comments about N. n. cypriaca including on its scarcity and possible distinctness taxonomically. There are a number of other subspecies in Europe e.g. N. n. cettii and N. n. corsa which should probably also be listed as threatened.

Unfortunately, until such time as we are able to assess the global status of the species as a whole, we will not be able to include assessments of any of these subspecies on the IUCN Red List. It also sounds as though this species complex is in need of taxonomic revision.

 Best wishes


Craig Hilton-Taylor
Manager UK Office & Red List Unit
Species Programme
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
219c Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, United Kingdom
Tel. +44 1223 277966; Fax +44 1223 277845;
www.iucn.org and http://wwwiucnredlist.org

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