Finally, iguanas have been reintroduced to Galapagos. Indeed, 1436 endemic saurians from the Ecuadorian archipelago were reintroduced on an island from which they had completely disappeared since the 19th century.
In the Galapagos Islands, efforts to conserve endemic species are underway. National Park teams announced that in early January 1436 land iguanas were reintroduced on the coast of Santiago Island. The last person to see living saurians here was none other than Charles Darwin, in 1835, during his voyage aboard the Beagle.
Jorge Carrión, director of the Galapagos National Park, said in a statement that the land iguanas had disappeared from Santiago because of invasive species, such as the wild pig, which was eradicated from the island in 2001 during a vast project of “control”. Goats and pigs were mass exterminated by the authorities.
The population of these terrestrial iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus), classified as “vulnerable” by IUCN, is estimated at 5000 individuals throughout the archipelago. And as these formidable herbivores – which can measure more than one meter long – began to endanger the cactus of the small island of Seymour North, the national park made the decision to migrate some of the reptiles to that of Santiago.
In this archipelago inhabited by more than 1900 terrestrial and marine species unique in the world, the preservation of the ecosystem is not an easy task. Even less so when global warming and mass tourism mingle. But scientists are watching. In terms of success, we can notably mention the decline of the red quinquina coriace – an invasive species – thanks to the massive replanting of endemic miconias shrubs on the island of Santa Cruz. Or the reintroduction of giant tortoises from Española on the island of the same name, conducted through local breeding centers.