Cola Chata Iguana
Due to habitat destruction and degradation, invasive species, and direct exploitation, Central America's iguana populations are declining. In Nicaragua, we have begun studying the Five-keeled Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata), known locally as the Cola Chata Iguana.
Considered Endangered, fewer than 2,500 of these iguanas are believed to exist in a series of 10-15 fragmented populations in Nicaragua and northernmost Costa Rica. A semi-arboreal (tree-dwelling) species, this spiny-tailed iguana, found in tropical dry forest and associated rocky areas, is drastically affected by deforestation, burning associated with agriculture, the pet trade, and local beliefs. Mistakenly considered venomous these iguanas are sometimes killed in a misguided effort to protect cattle. Aside from the southernmost population found in Santa Rosa National Park of Costa Rica, the Cola Chata iguana receives no formal protection, and all indicators suggest that this species is in danger of extinction within 50 years.
We are working to change that.
Conducting surveys and mapping iguana habitat will allow us to reassess existing populations, monitor their health, educate nearby communities, and find ways we can help restore habitat for these endangered iguanas and minimize threats to their populations.
In conjunction with our ongoing efforts to conserve biodiversity and restore tropical dry forest through eco-tourism, we are assessing the status of Nicaragua's Five-keeled Spiny-tailed Iguana and taking steps to ensure its survival.
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