Honduran Spiny-Tailed Iguanas at Risk as locals prefer to eat Egg-Bearing Females


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.

Honduran Spiny Tailed Iguana

The Honduran Spiny Tailed Iguana known as the Ctenosaura melanosterna, also commonly known as the black-chested spiny-tailed iguana, is a species of lizard in the Iguanidae family. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests such as the Valle de Aguán in Honduras.

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.

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