Bringing dragons back to the volcanoes


Project background

The Galapagos land iguana is currently classified by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable but this status has not been reviewed since 1996. They have been extinct on Santiago island since the early 20th which is thought to have been due to introduced animals, such as feral cats and goats (which have now been removed from the island). These introduced animals continue to cause decreases in land iguana populations on other islands through competition for food, and predation of eggs and juveniles. This has been made worse by the fact that the land iguanas have an ageing population and 80% of the population have limited reproductive success.

The Galapagos Land Iguana Project aims to gain more understanding into the decline of these reptiles. By tagging individual land iguanas, the team, led by Luis Ortiz-Catedral, aim to gather as much data as possible to assess the current population size and health status across Fernandina, Isabela and Santa Cruz islands. This will help to recommend a management plan to increase survival rates of juvenile Galapagos land iguanas as well as providing the information needed to reintroduce land iguanas to Santiago island in the future.

Project Achievements

  • The tagging of over 150 iguanas in three populations.
  • The tagging of the smallest Land iguana in the last ten years. It was found on top of Fernandina Island and measured only 14cm long!
  • Consolidated a partnership to conduct a small workshop to discuss the reintroduction options of Land Iguanas to Santiago Island. 

Future goals

Santiago is the largest managed invasive predator-free island in the Galapagos Islands. The data collected from Fernandina will allow the development of a map of ideal reintroduction sites on Santiago island, and ultimately provide a translocation plan for these reptiles.

How you can help

Please help us to protect the land iguanas of Galapagos and work towards bringing these dragons back to the volcanoes of Santiago island by donating today or joining up as a GCT member.