More than 100 years after they disappeared, a land iguana is now naturally reproducing on the Galapagos Santiago Island.
In 2019, the Galapagos National Park officials reintroduced more than 3,000 iguanas from a nearby island to help restore the natural ecosystem of Santiago. Now, they’ve reported the iguanas — one of three land iguanas that live on the islands — are officially reproducing naturally, with babies, males, and females spotted all over the island.
In the 1830s, Charles Darwin reported the island was filled with these reptiles. Scientists believe they then disappeared in the early 1900s. The iguanas are a critical part of the ecosystem.
"It's a great conservation achievement and strengthens our hopes of restoration on the islands that have been severely affected by introduced species,” said Galapagos National Park authority director Danny Rueda.
The return of the species to the island means these animals once again play their role in the ecosystem by creating paths, removing soil, dispersing seeds and even providing food for animals such as sparrowhawks, Mr Rueda said.
Located close to 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos islands are home to unique flora and fauna and are a Natural World Heritage site.