Avalon is the Founder of Conserve It Forward which can be followed on Twitter @conserveitforwa or Facebook at www.facebook.com/ConserveItForwardWithAvalon
This summer our family traveled to a beautiful place in Nicaragua called Lost Canyon Nature Reserve. During our time there, we learned about their Nicaragua Iguana Project that helps a very cool endangered species. That species is the Nicaraguan iguana. Sadly, according to the IUCN Red List, there are less than 2,500 mature Nicaraguan iguanas still in the wild.
When the iguana is born, it is usually a bright shade of green, and will start to get a dark brown color when it gets older. The males can get a length of 14 inches, and females can get a little over 7 inches. This reptile’s tail is pointed with spikes that look threatening to predators. Another important fact to know about the Nicaraguan iguana is that it only ranges in very small parts of Nicaragua into Costa Rica.
A major threat to the Nicaraguan iguana is habitat loss, which means they are losing their homes. Because the Nicaraguan iguana can only live in endangered tropical dry forest habitat in snags (dead trees), they are even more threatened with extinction. Habitat loss happens because people need wood for cooking fuel, and farmers burn their fields for farming. The Nicaraguan iguanas that escape the habitat destruction will sometimes move into wooden fence posts. Thankfully they adapted to these makeshift homes, although that may make them more vulnerable to predators. People will also sometimes mistake them for being venomous and a threat to their family, so they may kill them.
My first day in Lost Canyon Nature Reserve my family and I hiked up a mountain, where I got to release two Nicaragua iguanas onto a tree in the protected area. I watched them climb up to the highest branches to have their first taste of new freedom. The Nicaraguan Iguana Project helps this endangered species find new homes in the wild where they can live peacefully.
The male and female iguanas I released got to see another day, where all they had to worry about was natural predators! Yea! I was so happy to help, and I hope that both of them will have a happy life, and maybe even have babies! To see a short video of my time with the Nicaragua iguanas, please visit http://youtu.be/LeagT_2LiKQ. To learn more about the Nicaragua Iguana Project at Lost Canyon Reserve, please visit www.lost-canyon.org.