Public Release: 

Preference for gravid females makes rare iguana consumption unsustainable

Zoological Society of San Diego

The Valle de Aguán spiny-tailed iguana is a critically endangered species found in Honduras. A recent survey of people living in the region shows that, although residents are aware of the endangered status of the species, the iguana continues to be hunted for food. Of particular concern is the preference for the consumption of female iguanas that are gravid (carrying eggs in their body).

"In this study we worked to gain a better understanding of how humans are harvesting the species for food," said Stesha Pasachnik, Ph.D., a lead researcher on the study and a postdoctoral research associate for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. "The information we gained indicates a use that is not only not sustainable but is likely to accelerate this species' extinction due to the loss of gravid females."

Published in the December issue of Herpetological Conservation and Biology, the study gained firsthand information regarding the hunting, harvesting and consumption of the species. Although the study, supported by the Bay Islands Foundation and San Diego Zoo Global, highlights an area of serious concern, it also recommends work to educate residents about the species and ways that harvesting can be made more sustainable.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the mission of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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