Expedition Reveals Pink Land Iguana is on the Verge of Extinction

AUGUST 27, 2021

Conservation action is urgently required with an estimated 211 left on Earth.

Preliminary results from the first-ever comprehensive census of the Pink Land Iguana reveal that the species is in dire need of conservation action.

During the recent 10-day joint expedition of Galápagos Conservancy and the Galápagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), 30 scientists and park rangers surveyed the population of Pink Land Iguanas across an area of nearly 1,000 acres on Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island, the only place in the world that the species inhabits. Using a mark-recapture method of population analysis, Galápagos Conservancy scientists have estimated the total number of Pink Land Iguanas at 211.

A Pink Land Iguana near the rim of Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island © Joshua Vela / Galápagos Conservancy

Wolf Volcano Expedition 2021 Photo Album

Alarmingly, no juveniles were found — the last juvenile was sighted in 2014 — and our scientists are concerned that introduced predators such as rodents and feral cats are preying on eggs and young hatchlings.

GNPD and Galápagos Conservancy have stationed a series of camera traps near the summit of Wolf Volcano. Triggered by movement, footage from these cameras will help scientists gain a better understanding of Pink Land Iguana behaviors and threats. The camera trap footage below was recorded in the days following the expedition, including the clip triggered by a rodent that may be a predator of the iguana’s eggs and hatchlings.

According to GNPD Director Danny Rueda and Galápagos Conservancy Director of Conservation Washington Tapia, saving the Pink Land Iguana has become an urgent conservation priority. Given the presence of introduced predators and the lack of juveniles, as well as the limited geographic range of the species, the Pink Land Iguana is at risk of imminent extinction.

But thanks to a collaborative international effort of scientists and conservation experts, there is hope. Immediately following the expedition, a team of scientists and researchers was convened by GNPD to develop a conservation plan for the Pink Land Iguana. Strategic actions developed during the workshop will soon be launched to save this species from extinction.