The Green Iguana Conservation Project has developed quite an amazing reputation over the past decade for being one of the most successful community sustained conservation-based programs in Belize. Its popularity among locals and visitors has been heart-warming; what began as a small, independent initiative has brought a great deal of attention and understanding around this threatened specie. As a tribute to our absolute favourite reptile (we’re only being a little biased), we thought we’d share with you our list of 20 cool facts about iguanas and the Green Iguana Conservation Project.
- Green iguanas are large, tropical reptiles that can grow to a length of 5 to 6 feet (tail included) and live as long as 15 years in the wild.
- The Green Iguana Conservation Project was started in 1996 with the collection of ‘at-risk’ eggs from along the river in Bullet Tree Falls, a village just outside of San Ignacio Town.
- In 2019, it was voted by TripAdvisor as the No. 1 Thing To Do In San Ignacio. A position is has held since 2010!
- The Green Iguana Conservation Project is located on the grounds of the award-winning San Ignacio Resort Hotel. A quick tour of the Tea Tasting & Medicinal Tour can also be included during this visit!
- Visitors can contribute to the long-term conservation of this important species through the ‘Adopt an Iguana’ program. Funds raised go directly to sustaining the project and support scholarships to local school children.
- Locals call female iguanas ‘guana’ while male iguanas are referred to as ‘garobo.’
- The iguanas at the exhibit are fostered from egg to juvenile stage, after which they are released into the wild. However, if by any condition an Iguana is classified as threatened for release, he/she will remain in the Project to enhance chances of survival.
- Iguanas are considered a delicacy throughout Central America, often referred as ‘bamboo chicken.’ Female iguanas with eggs are especially coveted. Overhunting along with loss of habitat created the conditions that led to the creation of the Green Iguana Conservation Project.
- Green iguanas are herbivorous, they especially love fruits, berries, flowers, and leaves, but they will at times eat insects too. At the Resort, they are fed a rich diet of ripe, tropical fruits, Chaya leaves, vegetables, and an assortment of greenery and flowers.
- The Green Iguana Conservation Project tour is offered daily from 8 am to 4 pm. The tour leaves every hour on the hour. Come at least 15 minutes before to book your tour!
- The tour costs USD$11.25 per person and lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how interactive you wish to get with the iguanas.
- The Green Iguanas reared in the course of the Project are typically raised for two years on-site and released before they reach sexual maturity to prevent inbreeding.
- November through February is considered mating season.
- The released Green Iguanas are transferred to reserves within the protected areas where the chances of survival will be the highest.
- The Green Iguana Conservation Project is designed with natural elements aimed at mimicking the iguana’s natural habitat. This enables them to adjust easily to the wild upon release.
- In 2003 the conservatory was rehabilitated. It received a new exhibit that was open to the public in November of that year.
- There is no government or outside funding for the Project. It is sustained wholly through tour fees, donations, and the ‘Adopt an Iguana’ program.
- The iguanas can get a bit handsy (smile). We recommend wearing a light, long-sleeve shirt when interacting with them.
- The best part is: it’s a great, low-key, inexpensive way to explore Belizean wildlife for children and adults!
- Keep a lookout for more updates this 2022—we just might have a surprise for you this year!
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