Endemic to Roatan, the Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura oedirhina) has been classified as endangered as a result of habitat loss, hunting, and human encroachment. There is a thriving population of these fascinating mid-sized lizards at Paya Bay.
This healthy-looking, breeding-age female seemed very at ease as I photographed her this past weekend. I've noticed that this rare and unique species of iguana seems to have virtually no DNA-encoded fear of humans. This makes sense if you consider that they -- very likely -- evolved on an island devoid of human presence for (I'm guessing) thousands (perhaps even tens or hundreds of thousands) of years. Ironically, this "evolutionary innocence" makes them easy prey for the modern, hungry, protein-hunting man (and his super-efficient sidekick: the feral domestic cat).
It would be unconscionable for aware, educated, 21st century people to allow these animals to have the fate of the Dodo bird. In an effort to help protect them, I've designated an area of the property where these iguanas are especially plentiful as the Tropical Garden Reserve. As long as it's my decision to make, this multi-acre area of the property will remain deliberately undisturbed so that these precious animals may have a safe place to call their home.
Learn more about the effort to save the Roatan Spiny-tailed Iguana.