Quito, Dec 20 (EFE).- A scientific expedition to the Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island in the Galapagos archipelago, where the world’s last population of pink iguanas live, has managed to see for the first time hatchlings and juveniles of this unique species, Ecuador’s Environment Ministry announced Tuesday.
In recent months, the scientific team documented various nesting sites and detected both active nests and newborn and juvenile pink iguanas (Conolophus marthae).
Genetic analysis to confirm the find is under way, while motion-activated cameras have been set up by the team all over the volcano’s slopes to catch the lizards as they go about their activities, and those cameras have not only found significant evidence of nesting but also the threat to them by species that have been introduced into the islands.
Participating in the expedition were park rangers from the Galapagos National Park and the Environment Ministry, with the support of the Galapagos Conservancy organization via the Galapagos Conservancy Foundation.
“This discovery marks a significant step forward, which allows us to identify a path going forward to save the pink iguana,” said Galapagos National Park director Danny Rueda in a statement on Tuesday.
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile, Luis Ortiz-Catedral, an expert on reptiles and a scientific adviser on the project, said that “this find was made possible thanks to the experimental methodology designed in the field by park rangers Johanes Ramirez and Jean Pierre Cadena.”
Wolf Volcano, which rises 1,700 meters (5,576 feet) above sea level on Isabela Island, is one of the most remote places where Ecuadorian environmental authorities carry out conservation activities, and thus a permanent research and biodiversity monitoring station has been established there.
This infrastructure was made possible thanks to funding by the Galapagos Conservancy and the Jocotoco Foundation, with whom monitoring and control of introduced species are being carried out, especially in areas of high ecological value, with an eye toward mitigating their impact on the ecosystem and the pink iguanas.
“Having a research and monitoring station will allow us to adequately collect data to fill in the information gaps both about the pink iguana and the rest of the biodiversity (in the area), as well as to develop a long-term monitoring program on the dynamics of this ecosystem,” Washington Tapia, the director of Galapagos Conservancy and Conservando Galapagos, said.
In 1978, UNESCO declared the Galapagos archipelago to be a World Heritage Site due to its high level of biodiversity.