Another endangered species from the Galapagos Islands is on the brink

Scientific experts sent to the Galapagos Islands to count a critically endangered lizard species estimate that only 211 pink iguanas remain, local authorities said this week.

About 30 scientists and rangers from the Galapagos park took part in this month’s expedition to the Wolf volcano, north of Isabela Island, the largest in the archipelago.

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“During the census, 53 iguanas were located and (temporarily) captured, 94% of which live above 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level,” said the Galapagos National Park (PNG ) in a press release. This allowed the experts to “estimate a population of 211 pink iguanas”, a AFP report explains.

Pink iguanas were first discovered in 1986 and identified as a distinct species from the Galapagos land iguana in 2009. They live exclusively in an area of ​​25 square kilometers (9.5 square miles) on Wolf Volcano, where the PNG has installed cameras to study the behavior of iguanas and the threats they face.

Before the census, Ecuadorian expert Washington Tapia said AFP that there could be up to 350 pink iguanas. So far, “no juveniles have been found,” said Tapia, director of the US NGO Galapagos Conservancy, which took part in the expedition.

Handout photo released by Galapagos National Park of a Galapagos Pink Iguana at Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island in the Galapagos Archipelago, Ecuador on August 9, 2021.

In quotes released by PNG on Friday, Tapia said that “being limited to a single site makes the species more vulnerable.” “Urgent action is needed to ensure their preservation.”

Earlier this year, Ecuadorian researchers confirmed that a giant tortoise found in 2019 in the Galapagos Islands was a species considered extinct a century ago. The turtle was found two years ago on Fernandina Island, one of the youngest and most pristine in the archipelago, during a joint expedition between the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Conservancy, a Reuters report explains.

Scientists at Yale University then identified him as the Chelonoidis phantasticus species considered extinct more than a century ago. “Yale University has revealed the results of genetic studies and the respective DNA comparison that was made with a specimen extracted in 1906,” the Galapagos Park said in a statement. In the Galapagos, many varieties of turtles coexist with flamingos, boobies, albatrosses and cormorants, a family of aquatic bird species, the Reuters report added.

The Galapagos Islands are a protected wildlife area and are home to unique species of flora and fauna. They are located 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of the equator. The archipelago was made famous by British geologist and naturalist Charles Darwin’s observations on evolution after visiting the islands.

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