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Iguanas make a comeback to a Galapagos island after nearly 200 years

Iguanas that were once wiped out by predators have been reintroduced to an island in the Galapagos archipelago nearly 200 years after they were last seen there.

More than 1400 Galapagos land iguanas from North Seymour Island have been released onto Santiago Island as part of an ecological restoration program, the National Galapagos park authority said.

The last recorded sighting of iguanas on Santiago Island was made by British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835, news agency AFP reports.

"Almost two centuries later, this ecosystem will once again count on this species through the restoration initiative," the park authority said in a statement.

The iguanas became extinct due to the introduction of predators such as the feral pig, which was eradicated in 2001, the authority's director Jorge Carrion said. 

The programme also aims to protect the population of about 5,000 iguanas on North Seymour, where food is limited.

The Galapagos archipelago, 1,000 km from the Ecuador coast, contains unique wildlife and vegetation, and is a Unesco world heritage site.

Iguanas on Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Source: istock.com