Feb 1

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: Northern Bahamian rock iguana (subspecies Andros Island iguana)

Nominated by: IUCN Iguana Specialist Group (ISG)

Conservation status: Endangered

Why do you love it? The preferred habitat of this iguana is under the open canopy of the pine barrens of Andros Island in the Bahamas. Here the limestone karst rock provides adequate shelter and active termite mounds provide nest sites, for one of the largest rock iguanas. This is the only rock iguana species that almost exclusively nests in termite mounds! The female will dig upward into the termite mound from its base, then, lay her eggs outside the mound. She uses her snout and front limbs to push the eggs up into the tunnel entrance. When she is done, she seals the opening with dirt and covers it up. The termite mound is a perfect place to incubate the eggs. The female will guard the nest for up to six weeks. The young iguanas will hatch after 72 to 82 days.

What are the threats to the Andros Island iguana? A major threat to the Andros Island iguana is an increase in the population of feral pigs. Particularly in north Andros, feral pigs pose a very real threat to the recruitment of iguanas as they are known to rout out eggs from iguana nests. Feral and domestic dogs are also a threat to both juvenile and adult animals. Many local residents are apparently unaware of the protected status of the Andros iguanas and may occasionally take them for human consumption.

The Andros iguana is threatened as a result of the acceleration of perturbations to iguana populations, such as habitat loss, feral animals and subsistence hunting. Although the island is large and some undisturbed subpopulations exist, it is only a matter of time before humans or feral animals degrade the populations. An obvious north/south trend in population decline is noted and procedures must be implemented to stop further degradation of subpopulations and habitat.

What are you doing to save it? Dr. Charles Knapp, IUCN SSC Iguana Specialist Group Co-Chair, and Head of Conservation and Research at Shedd Aquarium has been studying Andros Island Iguanas for over twenty years. Supported by Shedd, Dr. Knapp’s work has shed light on the nesting habits of the species. Their long-term commitment has resulted in significant advances in the conservation of Bahamian iguanas as well as a better understanding of conservation strategies for Caribbean iguanas throughout the region. They were among the first to investigate the efficacy of translocating rock iguanas, or moving them to islands with fewer threats, to reduce the risk of extinction. Their detailed ecological studies and distribution surveys, along with direct consultation with Bahamian authorities, resulted in the expansion of an existing national park on Andros Island to include critical iguana habitat and important populations.

Find out more about the Iguana Specialist Group

Discover more lizard and snake species on Arkive