The Galápagos Islands are a pinnacle of diversity and wildlife. Sadly, many of the unique species found on those islands are facing near-extinction, including the Galápagos pink iguanas.
Conservationists first described the iguanas back in 2009 and immediately recognized that they faced a serious risk of extinction. However, there’s a glimmer of hope for the species coming from the Galápagos Conservancy.
Back in 2009, it was estimated that some 200-300 iguanas were left, and they all lived on a remote part of Wolf Volcano on Isabella Island.
In a recent expedition, conservationists and researchers with the Galápagos Conservancy went out to that part of the island and set up cameras to learn more about the Galápagos pink iguanas and get a better idea of where their numbers stand today.
After 10 months, researchers were able to confirm that the species is alive and well: still building nests and procreating.
In fact, they even spotted a baby Galápagos pink iguana! It was the first baby spotted since the species was first discovered back in 2009.
In a press release, the Ecuadorian Minister of the Environment exclaimed, “Excellent news for our country! Pink iguana hatchlings and juveniles were discovered for the first time after years of research. This is thanks to a collaboration between the GNPD and the Galápagos Conservancy. Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this discovery!”
During the expedition, researchers used hidden cameras to catch the species on camera and identify the baby. Using the cameras, they also confirmed the major threat to the pink iguanas: non-native cats. While unsettling to witness the impact that feral cats have had on the species, it also brings hope for revival.
In the press release, the president of the Galápagos Conservancy, Paul Salaman, said: “The discovery of the first-ever nest and young pink iguanas together with evidence of the critical threats to their survival has also given us the first hope for saving this enigmatic species from extinction. Now, our work begins to save the pink iguana.”
The expedition offered hope for the species’ survival, but saving them won’t be easy. Part of the challenges conservationists faces when helping the species is the steep, mountainous terrain of Wolf Volcano. The iguanas nest some 5,600 feet above sea level, with scorching hot weather during the day and frigid winds at night. The rocky ground is littered with cacti and ticks.
However, now knowing the role feral cats play, conservationists can better form a plan to help eradicate those invasive alien species and get the ecosystem back to what it once was.Whizzco