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Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana

Ctenosaura bakeri 

Conservation  | Research  | Outreach 


The Utila spiny tailed iguana (Ctenosaura bakeri) or The "Swamper" as it is known locally, is Critically Endangered and endemic (lives only) on the island of Utila. The species has a limited distribution, likely occupying less than 25% (10 km2) of the island and is found only in areas of mangrove swamp habitat. At Kanahau along with the help and support of the IUCN SSC Iguana specialist group, International Iguana Foundation and University of South Wales, we carry out a conservation programme which involves population monitoring, researching the nesting and hatchling ecology and  habitat preferences.   

​Our study involves using mark/recapture techniques along established transects to determine population sizes. Biometric data (Length, Weight, sex) are collected from each of the individuals, then they are marked with bead tags and PIT tags and then released. We also use such methods as Camera trapping, habitat surveying and radio telemetry depending on the aspect of the project
Community awareness and education is key in this project as the Swamper is hunted on the island for its meat and eggs, this is an illegal practice but is very common on island.

Kanahau Utila Research and Conservation Facility (KURCF) have helped pioneer the population monitoring of C. bakeri in its natural habitat. Our long-term research project dating back to 2012, first updated the Critically Endangered status of C. bakeri on the IUCN Redlist in 2018 (Maryon et al. 2018), but is now at an exciting and critical stage of implementing an IUCN Species Survival Commission Action Plan from 2020-2025, as developed in November 2019 at the Iguana Specialist Group meeting (Maryon et al. 2020). In conjuction with other local NGOs, Kanahau's dedicated team is leading the collaborative steps required within the community to meet the conservation objectives for this species. Our team represent official lead/point-persons for numerous essential goals critical to the plans overall success. Lastly, our research has informed the listing of Utila as a site with the Alliance for Zero Extinction, to protect C. bakeri and other reptiles.

See our research to date and learn how you can become involved in our conservation efforts!

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