The sungazer lizard is under threat of extinction.
Shivan Parusnath, PhD student at Wits University says the lizards are under threat because there are far too many people and secondly they are being poached for pet trades.
It's our survival against their survival.— Shivan Parusnath, PhD student at Wits University
Parusnath explains that certain aspects of the pet trade are known while the underground trade is rarely known of. The underground part we can only speculate about because that involves people shoving lizards into their bags and trying to get them across airports and countries, adds Parusnath.
The sungazer is a species that should only be traded if its captive bred. Unfortunately it has been impossible to get these animals to breed in captivity and as a result many of them are sold as captive bred.— Shivan Parusnath, PhD student at Wits University
Parusnath believes the sungazers are given permits to be exported from South Africa as captive bred whereas they were wild caught animals. He says over the past decade approximately eighty animals per year have been leaving the country.
He adds that they are trying to get farmers and private land owners in the Free State to be come stewards of the sungazers.
Listen to the full interview in the audio below: