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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Iguanas reintroduced to Galapagos island – two centuries after they disappeared

The last recorded sighting of iguanas in Santiago Island had been made by Charles Darwin

More than 1,400 iguanas have been reintroduced to a Galapagos island about two centuries after they disappeared from there.

The Galapagos land iguanas from North Seymour Island were released on Santiago Island as part of an ecological restoration programme.

The last recorded sighting of iguanas in Santiago Island had been made by British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835.

"Almost two centuries later, this ecosystem will once again count on this species through the restoration initiative," the National Galapagos Park authority said.

Its director, Jorge Carrion, said the iguanas became extinct due to the introduction of non-native predators such as the feral pig, which was eradicated in 2001.

The programme is also aimed at protecting the population of iguanas on North Seymour, said to number about 5,000, where food is limited.

"The land iguana is a herbivore that helps ecosystems by dispersing seeds and maintaining open spaces devoid of vegetation," said Danny Rueda, the park authority's ecosystems director.

The Galapagos archipelago, about 1,000 kilometres from the Ecuador coast, contains unique wildlife and vegetation, and is a Unesco World Heritage site. But it has one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world.

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