BONN, Germany, June 3 (UPI) -- Asian monitor lizards, among the word's largest lizards, are being exploited at unsustainable levels despite regulations and laws in place, researchers say.
A team of German and Indonesian scientists said monitor lizards in Southeast Asia are being harvested and traded for their skins and as pets.
Besides the demand for the pet trade, where particular species are targeted, the commercial trade in skins is major threat for some species and populations, a release from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Germany said.
Next to crocodiles and giant snakes, monitor lizards are the species group of lizards most frequently exploited within the skin trade, it said.
In addition to trade as pets and for their skins, monitor lizards native to Southeast Asia also encounter threats from humans, the researchers said.
Local conflicts arise when certain species are found to have killed domestic fowl; road kills are common in certain regions; and some species are even targeted for bush meat.
Southeast Asian represents the global center of monitor lizard diversity, with 44 described species.