Cabildo sets out to save Giant Tenerife Lizard from extinction

Photo: Tenerife Cabildo.

The Tenerife Cabildo’s Environment Department has embarked on the five year Recovery Plan announced by the regional Government last November to increase the population of the Giant Tenerife Lizard – Gallotia intermedia. The first lizards involved in the programme have been captured in the Teno area, and will be kept at the Biochemical, Microbiology, Cellular Biology and Genetics Department of the University of  La Laguna where the different studies will take place.

Cabildo Environment chief José Antonio Valbuena explained that the objective is to guarantee the survival of this endemic species which is classified as in critical danger of extinction. After the necessary samples are taken the creatures are then released back into the same environment from where they were caught in innocuous traps. These areas are, now, generally reduced to Teno and remoter areas of Guaza mountain where their main threat is feral cats.

One aspect of the new study will be to establish the relationship between these two populations within this island, as well as to illuminate the differences between the Tenerife Giant Lizard and the other giant species in the Canary Islands. The Giant Tenerife Lizard measures between 45 and 75 cm and is a dark grey-brown with small yellow or blue patches. It was discovered in 1996 and its two populations at the time were estimated to total 1,400, 900 in Guaza and 500 or so in the areas of Teno above Los Gigantes (appropriately enough!).

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