Home to one of the worlds rarest animals.
welcome to the page for one of the rarest animals in the world. This page & Project is in collaboration with the guatemalan NGO Zootropic, that runs Heloderma Reserve on a daily basis.
Background history of Heloderma Reserve
The guatemalan beaded lizard is one of only 5 species of true venomous lizards in the world. It is also one of the most endangered lizards on the planet. Their venom have been proved to be a very important component in the science & production of diabetes medicine. There is still a lot to be learned about their venom, and it is right now a part of developing alzheimers medicine.
The Guatemalan beaded lizard was first discovered in 1984 and was feared extinct because of the illegal pet trade in Central America. until 2002 when the local Guatemalan NGO called Zootropic began a wide-ranging conservation project to help the country’s lizard populations. The beaded lizard was eventually located via a local poacher, who then became one of the projects biggest supporters. Zootropic has since undertaken a number of different activities, many of which involve local communities, to help safeguard the beaded lizard and other species against illegal capture and trade. The main project of Zootropic is Heloderma Natural Reserve (HNR), a 58 ha protected area and one of the best preserved dry forests in Central America managed. The reserve is located near the town of El Arenal, in the Cabañas Municipality. Heloderma Reserve is surrounded by 8 local villages and one main town, with around 25,000 people. Locals work mainly in agriculture, maize crops and watermelon farms. Heloderma National Reserve was created by Daniel Ariano, the founder of Zootropic NGO.
How is Forgotten Nature helping Heloderma National Reserve?
in 2018, before the birth of Forgotten Nature. Kasper & Jeppe traveled to guatemala for vacation purposes. As a herpetology interested person, Kasper came in contact with Daniel Ariano a biologist and founder of Zootropic & Heloderma Reserve. They ended up spending a few days at the reserve where they came in direct contact with the nature and wildlife of the reserve.
On the second night at the reserve Daniel Ariano invited Kasper to join him on a search for the incredible rare Motagua Valley beaded lizard. To everybodys big surprise they ended up finding a non tagged and microchipped female beaded lizard that were taken back to the camp to study, and held until release.
In 2019 we decided to support Daniel Ariano and Heloderma reserve, making funds available to build new holding pens for the lizard at the reserve. These holding pens, are for the lizards that were collected by locals and handed over to the Daniel & Gilberto at the Heloderma reserve.
These lizards were used to be poached on purpose, or collected when possible, to sell to the illegal pet trade. But because of great work by Zootropic in teaching the surrounding schools and locals about the lizards and other animals in motagua valley, they have now greater respect for the species, and generously bring back the animals to Heloderma reserve that were either found or popped up on their land. As a token for gratitude, they are also rewarded with a basket of food.
As for the future of this project, it is still in great importance that we keep informing the locals about the endemic species at the Heloderma Reserve. It is also important do make more studies on the species living in the reserve. At Forgotten Nature we see this a projects we want to support besides bringing information about this area to the public.
Motagua Valley is truly a paradise of Forgotten Nature.
Heloderma Reserve Team
Daniel Ariano-Sánchez is a conservation biologist and Professor of Ecology…Read more
Daniel Ariano-Sánchez is a conservation biologist and Professor of Ecology at Universidad del Valle in Guatemala. He is also the Founder of Heloderma Natural Reserve (HNR) in Guatemala, with the local NGO Zootropic. His principal interests are the ecology and conservation of dry forest and cloud forest herpetofauna of Guatemala, especially Heloderma, Ctenosaura, Abronia, Plectrohyla and Bothriechis. He has been doing research and promoting herpetofauna conservation in Guatemala for the last 20 years. Daniel has autored or co-authored over 35 peer-reviewed papers and notes on herpetological topics along with more than 100 publications to increase public awareness on reptile and amphibian conservation. He has discovered and described Rhadinella xerophila, a new species of snake endemic to the dry forest of Guatemala and which only known specimen comes from HNR. In 2008 he had won the Young Scientist Award from The World Academy of Sciences. He has also been involved in the development of conservation policies for Mesoamerican Herpetofauna at national and international level such as the National Strategies for Heloderma and Ctenosaura Conservation in Guatemala, the transfer of H. charlesbogerti from the appendix II to appendix I of CITES, and the inclusion of the Ctenosaura palearis clade (C. bakeri, C. melanosterna, C. oedirhina and C. palearis) in the appendix II of CITES.
Johana Gil-Escobedo is a biologist at charge of the Ctenosaura…Read more
Johana Gil-Escobedo is a biologist at charge of the Ctenosaura palearis conservation program at Heloderma Natural Reserve in Guatemala. She is also at charge of the education program with the local elementary schools at Motagua Valley. This program is aimed at diminishing the hunting pressures on the wild populations of beaded lizards and spiny tailed iguanas. She is also member of the Iguana Specialist Group of the IUCN. Over 10 years, Johana has reached more than 8,000 children in the region. Her principal interests are the conservation of dry forest biodiversity and strategies designed for increase of public awareness. She has been doing research and promoting dry forest conservation in Guatemala for the last 6 years. Johana is also at charge of the management of the Scientific Station and the logistics of attention of scientific tourism that arrives HNR.
Gilberto Salazar is a devoted conservationist and forest guard at…Read more
Gilberto Salazar is a devoted conservationist and forest guard at the Natural Reserve for the Conservation of Heloderma charlesbogerti in Guatemala, with the local NGO Zootropic. Gilberto is today one of the Guatemalan Beaded Lizard’s most active champions. His principal interest is to increase public awareness on the conservation of the dry forest and its associated species, especially H. charlesbogerti and Ctenosaura palearis in the Motagua Valley in Guatemala. To date, his work for habitat restoration, research and local outreach have made a collective impact on more than 35,000 local villagers in a culture that once feared and maligned the venomous reptiles almost to extinction. Gilberto had won in 2010 the Disney Conservation Hero award for his efforts on promoting the conservation of the Guatemalan Beaded Lizard, being the first Guatemalan to get this award. He had been working along with Daniel Ariano-Sánchez promoting the study and conservation of H. charlesbogerti for more than 15 years.
Learn about the Animals at Heloderma Reserve
Guatemalan Beaded Lizard
The guatemalan Beaded lizard is primarily the reason why Zootropic…Read more
Guatemalan Beaded Lizard
The guatemalan Beaded lizard is primarily the reason why Zootropic as an NGO started.
It is one of the rarest lizards in the world, and was first discovered by humans in 1984. They inhabit the dry forest of Motagua valley, which is 250km away from its closest relative the Mexican beaded lizard.
The Guatemalan beaded lizard is one of only 5 species of true venomous lizards in the world.
Components in their venom have been shown by science to have an important role in studying and developing medicine for serious diseases such as diabetes and alzheimers.
Motagua Valley spiny tail iguana
This species og Iguana is also endemic to the Motagua…Read more
Motagua Valley spiny tail iguana
This species og Iguana is also endemic to the Motagua valley, and just like the beaded lizards it is critically endangered because of habitat loss and illegal poaching.
As other iguanas they primarily are seen as herbivores, and prey upon the cacti in Motagua valley.
They are extremely important in Motagua Valley because of their job as seed dispersal for the many species of cacti and plants they prey upon.
This lizard is closely linked to the guatemalan beaded lizard, because their eggs is a important food source for them.
Heloderma Reserve is also working on saving this species from extinction.
The Margay Cat
Another native to the Motagua valley is the Margay Cat.…Read more
The Margay Cat
Another native to the Motagua valley is the Margay Cat.
This is a small species of wild cat, and weighs from 2-4kg. They are an nocturnal species primarily living in trees preying on birds, eggs, small lizards and mammals.
because of its rarity they dont pose a threat of the Heloderma and Iguana population in Motagua Valley.
They have been hunted illegally for the wildlife trade, and even though they are listed as near threatened since the 90’s they are declining of habitat loss and deforestation.
A smaller species of owl that also inhabits the Heloderma…Read more
A smaller species of owl that also inhabits the Heloderma Reserve. Like most other owls, they are nocturnal and prey upon small mammals and lizards.
This species is not endangered, but is still an important part of the biodiversity.
The yellow grosbeak
One of many beautiful birds that inhabit Motagua Valley is…Read more
The yellow grosbeak
One of many beautiful birds that inhabit Motagua Valley is the Yellow Grosbeak. They have been listed as an endangered species since 2009.
Their contrasted colors works as a warning sign on other animals. In 2018 it was discovered by Daniel Ariano of Zootropic that it is among a very few other birds, and the first bird in Guatemala to be a “toxic avian”.
They were found to have a toxic component in their feathers. It will require further studies to find out if it’s useful for medical purposes.
By supporting Heloderma Reserve, we also support the conservation of this rare bird, and the further studies of its toxicity.