An exciting crowd funding opportunity has been launched to send two Reaseheath animal science lecturers to Ecuador to help in the study of two rare and endangered species of lizard, Riama yumborum and Riama oculata.

The lecturers will receive specific training so they can gather data on the ecology, breeding biology and population dynamics of the lizards, which are found only in the Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Reserve in the northwest of the country. This essential research will help to predict how changes in climate and habitat may affect the biodiversity of the area and the future of the two species.

The lecturers will also use their extensive teaching expertise to train people within the local community so they can continue to gather data and monitor the lizards and other reptiles and amphibians in the reserve.

The lecturers’ training will be delivered in Ecuador by Dr Simon Maddock, a Reaseheath Animal Management Course Manager and Scientific Associate of the Natural History Museum, London, who helped to identify R. yumborum during his studies of the country’s reptiles and amphibians.

Simon explained: “This project is critical to our understanding of these two little-studied species. We cannot do anything to preserve species like these, which have highly restricted distribution, until we know more about their biological requirements and how these could be affected by climate change and habitat loss.  Even basic information such as their population size is unknown.

“The lecturers will also play an important part by passing on their skills to communities who live within the reserve. These local people will be encouraged and empowered to become part of the project and in turn will be at the forefront of driving the conservation of the entire area.”

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