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Why is the herpetofauna of Africa important?

On a global scale, Africa and its islands fall within two biogeographical realms. These are the Palaearctic Realm and the Africotropical Realm (Udvardy, 1975). In the former realm, only three biogeographic provinces are represented. These are the Mediterranean Sclerophyll, the Sahara and the Atlas Steppe. All of these occupy North Africa. South of these provinces is the Africotropical Realm with 29 biogeographical provinces being recognised. Two of the World’s four “megadiversity” countries fall with this latter realm. They are the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire and before that the Belgian Congo) and Madagascar (the other two are Indonesia and Brazil (Caldecott, 1992)). While the mammal, bird and even fish faunas are receiving much attention from conservationists, the herpetofauna remains much neglected with only the crocodiles and, to a degree, the chelonians receiving any major attention.

How can the African herpetofaunal biodiversity be maintained?

Maintaining present levels of biodiversity within this region will depend on how well a number of essential requirements can be met. These requirements involve the following:

1. Preparing a consolidated inventory of the taxa present in the region, their distributions and survival requirements.

2. An assessment and inventory of current conservation areas.

3. An assessment and inventory of sites that are critical for conservation (whether or not presently conserved) based on present distributions as well as the location of potentially important refuge areas in times of climatic extremes.

4. The monitoring of local and regional environmental change with particular attention to the areas identified under 2 & 3 above.

5. The preparation and implementation of prioritized action plans to ensure that threatened species and systems are afforded appropriate attention.

6. The inclusion and involvement of local communities in the management and maintenance of conservation areas and the training of theirappropriately chosen representatives.

7. The assessment of the potential for sustainable utilization and captive breeding of economically valuable species which could contribute to the economic development of local people while at the same time promoting the conservation of wild populations and their habitat.

8. Funding of the capital and running expenditure required to implement all aspects of the above.

How you can help

Do you want to volunteer for field work or other activities?

Are you looking for employment in this field?

Are you prepared to help with fund-raising?

Do you want to assist by providing funds, material, services or expertise?

If any of the above apply to you or you feel you can help in ways not mentioned above, please contact us with your ideas and particulars.

Please Note: Afriherp.org does not collect funds or run projects but has the aim of facilitating contact between volunteers, research or conservation workers, donors and project organisers in order to promote the interests of conservation and research involving the herpetofauna of Africa.

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