Protecting alligator lizards in Guatemala - Conservation Abronia

Where: Guatemala
Continue Zoo Atlanta's efforts to support this critical conservation project.
Zoo Atlanta partners with the Foundation for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Guatemala (Fundación para las especies amenazadas de Guatemala – FUNDESGUA) to protect the Campbell’s arboreal alligator lizard, a critically endangered reptile endemic to Guatemala.

The Campbell’s alligator lizard, a member of the genus Abronia, lives only in large, mature oak trees and faces serious threats from logging for firewood. The lizards’ remaining habitat is contained within eight large farms located in a high-elevation valley in eastern Guatemala. The entire wild population, believed to number fewer than 2,400 animals, inhabit the area’s remaining mature oaks, which number fewer than 410. 

The conservation program takes a holistic approach to protecting the lizards and their habitats while helping local people succeed, including but not limited to: 

  • Conservation education, including interactions with live animals; school programs; tree-planting; field surveys and animal care;
  • Applied research to determine the species’ range and habitat utilization;
  • Land preservation and restoration to secure new lizard habitat and connect existing lizard habitat; and 
  • Community programs for local people, including a food-incentive program, construction of new homes for villagers, scholarship programs and English lessons to help villagers obtain new job opportunities. 

Zoo Atlanta and the Foundation for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Guatemala; Brad Lock, DVM, the Zoo’s Curator of Herpetology, is a leading partner in the project.

Guatemala’s endemic reptile species are among the most endangered and unprotected wildlife on the planet, and many face a critical risk of extinction.
The Campbell’s alligator lizard exists in a very limited habitat that faces ongoing degradation and destruction. Habitat preservation, public education and community programs are crucial to the success of the wildlife and the people of this region.