Scientists have made a significant discovery on the Galápagos Islands, finding eggs and juvenile populations of the critically endangered pink land iguana for the first time.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, only 192 mature Galápagos pink land iguanas are left.
The discovery marks a significant step forward in efforts to save the pink iguanas, which are found nowhere else in the world than in Ecuador. The iguanas -known for their pink body- live only on the Wolf Volcano in the northern Isabela Island of the Galápagos Islands.
The Galápagos Islands, located off the coast of Ecuador, have unique and diverse wildlife. In addition to the pink iguana, the islands are home to several other animals found nowhere else, such as flightless cormorants and giant tortoises.
The Wolf Volcano is one of the most remote areas monitored by the Galapagos National Park, which has set up a research and monitoring station in the area.
The park’s director, Danny Rueda, said that understanding the vulnerabilities of the pink iguana will allow conservationists to take appropriate actions to protect the animals.
“Knowing all the aspects that make their existence vulnerable will allow us to take timely actions, mainly against invasive species and thus avoid interrupting the natural cycles of these fragile ecosystems,” Rueda said in a statement.
National park rangers first discovered the Galápagos pink land iguana in 1986, but it took decades for scientists to recognize the animal as a separate species.
“We had never seen a young pink iguana. The species was first described in 2009. Before that, the pink iguana was not known. Since then, we had not found any young iguanas,” Washington Tapia, director of Galápagos Conservancy, said.