The history and evolution of lizard rights

Wildlife law Jun 21, 2023

Lizards are a diverse group of reptiles that inhabit many regions of the world. They have been around for over 200 million years and have adapted to various environments and challenges. However, lizards have also faced threats from human activities such as habitat loss, pollution, hunting, and climate change.

In recent years, some people have advocated for the recognition and protection of lizard rights, arguing that lizards are sentient beings that deserve respect and dignity.

lizard prosecutor

What are lizard rights? Lizard rights are the idea that lizards have inherent value and interests that should be respected by humans and other animals. Lizard rights are based on the premise that lizards are not objects or resources for human use, but rather subjects of their own lives with intrinsic worth. Lizard rights also imply that lizards have moral standing and agency, meaning that they can act on their own behalf and influence their surroundings.

Why do lizards need rights? Lizards need rights because they are vulnerable to harm and exploitation by humans and other animals. Lizards face many challenges in their natural habitats, such as predators, parasites, diseases, and competition. However, human activities have added more pressures and dangers to their survival, such as deforestation, urbanization, agriculture, mining, poaching, pet trade, invasive species, and global warming. These threats have caused many lizard species to decline or go extinct. For example, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 31% of lizard species are threatened with extinction.

How did lizard rights emerge? Lizard rights emerged from the broader animal rights movement, which seeks to end the suffering and exploitation of all animals by humans. Animal rights activists have challenged the traditional view that animals are inferior to humans and have no moral value or rights. They have argued that animals are sentient beings that can feel pain, pleasure, fear, joy, and other emotions. They have also claimed that animals have cognitive abilities such as memory, learning, problem-solving, communication, and sociality. Therefore, animal rights activists have demanded that animals be treated with compassion and justice.

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Lizard rights are a specific branch of animal rights that focuses on the welfare and conservation of lizards. Lizard rights advocates have highlighted the unique characteristics and contributions of lizards to the natural world and human culture. They have also exposed the cruelty and injustice that lizards face from human actions and policies. Lizard rights activists have used various strategies to promote lizard rights, such as education, research, legislation, litigation, protest, boycott, rescue, sanctuary, and advocacy.

What are some examples of lizard rights? Lizard rights are not yet widely recognized or enforced by most governments or societies. However, there are some examples of lizard rights that have been granted or proposed by some countries or organizations. For instance:

  • In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to grant constitutional rights to nature (including lizards) in its new constitution. The constitution states that nature has “the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles”. It also allows people to sue on behalf of nature if its rights are violated.
  • In 2010, Bolivia passed a law that recognizes the rights of Mother Earth (including lizards) to life, diversity, water, clean air, balance, restoration, and freedom from genetic modification. The law also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth and an Ombudsman for Mother Earth to protect and enforce these rights.
  • In 2017, New Zealand granted legal personhood to the Whanganui River (including its lizards) after a long campaign by the indigenous Maori people who consider the river sacred. The river now has the same rights and duties as a human being and is represented by two guardians: one appointed by the Maori and one by the government.
  • In 2019, Switzerland banned boiling live lobsters (which are closely related to lizards) on the grounds that it causes them unnecessary pain and suffering. The law also requires that lobsters be stunned before being killed or cooked.
  • In 2020, a group of scientists proposed a Universal Declaration of Rights for All Living Beings (including lizards) at the World Congress for Existential Risk in Cambridge. The declaration states that all living beings have “the right to exist as they are”, “the right to live in their natural environment”, “the right to express their natural behavior”, “the right to be free from suffering”, “the right to be free from exploitation”, “the right to be treated with respect”, “the right to be represented in decision-making”, and “the right to access justice and remedy”.
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What are the challenges and prospects of lizard rights? Lizard rights face many challenges and obstacles from various sources, such as human ignorance, indifference, prejudice, greed, power, and violence. Lizard rights also face opposition from some religious, philosophical, legal, and economic perspectives that deny or diminish the moral status and value of lizards. Lizard rights also face practical difficulties in defining, measuring, and enforcing the rights and interests of lizards, especially given their diversity, complexity, and invisibility.

However, lizard rights also have many opportunities and benefits for both lizards and humans. Lizard rights can help protect and restore the biodiversity and ecosystems that lizards depend on and contribute to. Lizard rights can also help foster a more ethical and compassionate relationship between humans and lizards, based on mutual respect and understanding.

Lizard rights can also enrich and inspire human culture and knowledge, by learning from the beauty, wisdom, and diversity of lizards. Lizard rights can also enhance human well-being and happiness, by providing lizards with more opportunities for coexistence, cooperation, and friendship.

Lizard rights are not a fantasy or a joke. They are a serious and urgent issue that deserves our attention and action. Lizards are not mere things or commodities for our use and disposal.

They are living beings with their own value and dignity. They are our fellow Earthlings and kin. They have a history and a future that we share. They have rights that we must respect and protect.

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