69% of iguana species are threatened
The Spiny-tailed Iguanas (genus Ctenosaura) are the most diverse group of iguanas, with 18 species currently recognized. They are intensely hunted and highly endangered, with fully half of the species considered threatened with extinction by the IUCN Red List. Of this group, the Motagua Spiny-Tailed iguana (Ctenosaura palearis) is among the most threatened, due to habitat loss and poaching for human consumption.
Ctenosaura palearis is found ONLY in the Valle de Motagua in Guatemala, a region of tropical dry forest that is rapidly disappearing. The iguana’s distribution is severely fragmented with the total population estimated to be less than 2,500 mature individuals. It is classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Why they matter
The Motagua Spiny-Tailed Iguana plays a vital role in the dry forest ecosystem, specifically related to the Pitayo Organ Pipe Cactus. Seeds eaten and distributed by the iguana have greater germination success. The rehabilitation of the degraded areas of this region depend largely on the survival of this species.
Given its position in the food chain and role in seed germination and dispersal, these iguanas are considered a keystone species of the Motagua Valley. What is a keystone species? One that other species in an ecosystem depend on – if it were removed, the ecosystem would change drastically.
This holiday season, you can support the conservation of this species by providing funds that will go to local education efforts, habitat restoration, and research and monitoring of the Motagua Valley Spiny-tailed Iguana and its habitat.
Due to the degradation of the iguana’s dry forest habitat, restoration of native plant species is imperative to the successful conservation of this species.
Research & Monitoring
Continued research and monitoring is critical to ensure current conservation methods are effective and conducive to population and habitat rehabilitation.
Local education efforts, demonstrating the vulnerability and threats to this species, are vital to ensuring these iguanas supported and valued within the regional communities.