Species: La Gomera giant lizard (Gallotia bravoana)
Status: Critically Endangered (CR)
Interesting Fact: Courtship behaviour of the male La Gomera giant lizard consists of a head-bob display, where the male will inflate its throat and move its head up and down to a female.
Despite being nearly half a metre long, living La Gomera giant lizards were only found in 1999. Prior to their rediscovery, these giant lizards were known only from partially fossilised bones. All members of the Gallotia genus are endemic to the Canary Islands, with the La Gomera giant lizard only occurring on the island of La Gomera.
This large and robust lizard is mainly herbivorous, although it will predate insects and insect larvae. This species is active between mid-morning and late afternoon, and will spend the day basking and foraging for food. The La Gomera giant lizard is an egg-laying species, with the female excavating a nest site in which between three and seven eggs are laid.
Once thought to exist over a much larger range, the La Gomera giant lizard is now restricted to just two inaccessible cliffs on the west of the island. Threatened by predators introduced to its habitat by humans, such as rats and cats, populations of the La Gomera giant lizard have also declined as a result of hunting pressure and overgrazing of its habitat. There are now thought to be only around 90 of these animals left in the wild.
A species recovery plan for the La Gomera giant lizard has been implemented which aims to increase the population size and remove its major threats. The captive breeding of this species has so far proved successful, more than doubling the population. Conservationists aim to release and re-establish populations of this species across its former range.
See videos and photos of the La Gomera giant lizard on ARKive.
Find out more about the Program for the recovery of Gallotia bravoana and its distribution area.