Santiago, the island in the center of the Galapagos archipelago, is again home to land iguanas more than a century after their disappearance.
“One hundred and eighty-seven years later, we are once again seeing a healthy population of land iguanas,” notes Galapagos National Park authority director Danny Rueda. “We found males, females, youths, and newborns. This means the iguanas in Santiago Island are reproducing in a successful way and they are carrying out their corresponding ecological role. It’s a great conservation achievement.”
An expedition that took place between 1903 and 1906 by the California Academy of Sciences proved that the reptile from the Conolophus subcristatus species had disappeared from Santiago Island. However, in 2019, some 3,000 iguanas were released into the wild in an effort to restore the island’s natural ecosystem as the animal plays a vital role in creating paths, removing soil, dispersing seeds, and providing food for other animals. The reptile is now reproducing naturally and can therefore retake its rightful place in the island’s ecosystem.