Saving the Swamper - Research and efforts for conservation of the endemic and Critically Endangered Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana, Honduras

Daisy Maryon, Tom Brown, David Lee

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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    Abstract

    The Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura bakeri) is endemic to the Honduran island of Utila, part of the Bay Island chain and the smallest of these islands at 41km2. Primarily a mangrove species, this Critically Endangered iguana inhabits the red, black and white mangrove swamps of the island, which cover around 8.74km2, and to a lesser extent, coastal hardwood forests. Due to this habitat preference, C. bakeri has earned the local name of ‘Swamper’ on the island. C. bakeri is protected under Honduran national law and, since 2010, listed on Appendix II of CITES. However, this law is rarely enforced. Furthermore, the consumption of iguana meat is considered traditional on the island and the mainland, with the poaching of gravid females containing eggs being a common threat. With an increasing human population on Utila, it is likely hunting pressure will also continue to rise in tandem. Consequently, this is a critical time for the conservation of C. bakeri, with environmental education and community engagement paramount to successfully preserving this species and its habitat.As the ‘Swamper’ is already known locally (albeit often as a delicacy), this presents an ideal opportunity to build on this knowledge in a more positive light and make the iguana a flagship species for wildlife conservation on Utila. Work in the last two years by Kanahau Utila research and conservation facility has sought to raise awareness about the plight of C. bakeri to tourists and residents alike. By highlighting the human impact on this species, we hope to create an umbrella effect that would help conserve island habitats and, consequently, many other species of conservation importance. To counteract the poaching of iguanas, and generally inspire an appreciation for local wildlife and ecosystems, it is essential that environmental education of the younger and current generation take place, and that it be effective, interactive and informative.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventIsland Biology: Island ecology, evolution and conservation - https://ib2019.sciencesconf.org/, Réunion
    Duration: 8 Jul 201913 Jul 2019
    Conference number: 3
    https://ib2019.sciencesconf.org/

    Conference

    ConferenceIsland Biology
    Country/TerritoryRéunion
    Period8/07/1913/07/19
    Internet address

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