Feb 1

We asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Mona Island iguana

Nominated by: Island Conservation

Conservation status: Endangered

Why do you love it? Dinosaurs may have gone extinct, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the impressive Mona Island iguana found solely on Mona Island.

Described as one of the last bastions of biodiversity within Puerto Rico, Mona Island’s isolation and limited human access have allowed a high diversity of rare plant and animal communities to persist on Mona, literally making the island a treasure trove for biodiversity. Situated midway between the islands of Puerto Rico and La Hispañiola, this 13,590 acre limestone island remains a stronghold for numerous species unique to the island, including the Mona Island iguana. The Mona Island iguana has a large body, strong legs, vertically flattened tail, and a crest of pointed, horned scales runs from the nape of its neck to the tip of its tail. Reaching up to 1.22 metres (4 feet) in length, the Mona Island iguana is the largest land invertebrate and herbivore on the island, making them essential to maintaining a healthy island ecosystem.

What are the threats to the Mona Island iguana: Population numbers for the Endangered Mona Island iguana are estimated at around 5,000. Juveniles are scarce and represent only five to ten percent of the population, resulting in an aging and declining population. Feral cats and pigs present on Mona Island are the main cause of this species decline; both invasive species directly prey on young iguanas and eggs. With considerable impacts to their nesting habitat due to pig predation, habitat modification and sometimes, limited availability of suitable nesting areas (large depression forest patches comprise only about three percent of total land area), it is essential we remove invasive species from Mona to protect this threatened species from extinction.

What are you doing to save it? Island Conservation is working with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove invasive species from Mona Island, Puerto Rico. A restored Mona will provide safe habitat for species found only on the island, such as the Mona Island iguana. Our work will also protect the endemic Mona yellow-shouldered blackbird and the Mona boa, increase populations of hawksbill sea turtles, and protect a significant population of higo chumbo cactus.

Find out more about Island Conservation’s work on Mona Island

Discover more lizard and snake species on Arkive

 

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