When Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s, he noticed a specific type of iguana was thriving on Santiago Island.
Known as the Galapagos Land Iguana, the species was doing quite well back then, but more recently, it has been noticeably absent.
That changed, however, when land iguanas were re-wilded on Santiago Island.
It had been 187 years since Charles Darwin saw the healthy population of land iguanas, and now they are back.
For the past three years, 3,143 land iguanas have been released at the Galapagos National Park. It seems like the repopulation effort is doing well because the lizards are already reproducing and changing the ecosystem in a positive way.
According to a press release, a scientific advisor for the National Park, Dr. Luis Ortíz-Catedral, said: “They have opened paths, removed the earth, dispersed the seeds, and this is changing the dynamics; but the greatest results will be observed in a few more years.”
In doing some research, the team found that new iguanas were being born because they weren’t documented or labeled. This indicates that the program has been a success.
Although we may see iguanas in many parts of the world, the Galapagos Land Iguana is considered to be vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List. Other islands may have a larger number of those iguanas, but they haven’t been seen on Santiago Island since Darwin visited in the 1830s.
The Galapagos Islands are often thought of as being immune from the effects of the world around them. Unfortunately, that is not the case as pollution, invasive species, and other issues cause animal populations to experience issues.
Thanks to the efforts of conservationists, however, it seems as if the islands are going better and, in many cases, are even thriving.