Heloderma Reserve

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

Daniel Ariano-Sánchez is a conservation biologist and Professor of Ecology…

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Johana Gil-Escobedo

Johana Gil-Escobedo is a biologist at charge of the Ctenosaura…

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Gilberto Salazar

Gilberto Salazar is a devoted conservationist and forest guard at…

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Learn about the Animals at Heloderma Reserve

Guatemalan Beaded Lizard

The guatemalan Beaded lizard is primarily the reason why Zootropic…

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Motagua Valley spiny tail iguana

This species og Iguana is also endemic to the Motagua…

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The Margay Cat

Another native to the Motagua valley is the Margay Cat.…

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Megascops owl

A smaller species of owl that also inhabits the Heloderma…

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The yellow grosbeak

One of many beautiful birds that inhabit Motagua Valley is…

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So where is Heloderma Reserve situated?

Find out beneath!