Magazine article New Internationalist

Bite on the Iguana: Endangered "Tree Chickens" Farmed in Costa Rica (to Prevent Poaching)

Magazine article New Internationalist

Bite on the Iguana: Endangered "Tree Chickens" Farmed in Costa Rica (to Prevent Poaching)

Article excerpt

GERMAN biologist Dr Dagmar Werner is fighting to save the iguanas of Costa Rica - by encouraging people to eat them. They have been a valuable source of protein in various parts of Central and South America for 7,000 years and it is precisely because they taste so good - Costa Ricans call them Pollo de Palo, the 'chicken of the trees' - that they are endangered, despite government attempts to ban illegal hunting.

Werner, the brains behind an Iguana Park and breeding programme, hopes to save not only the endangered iguana, but parts of the tropical forest in which they live. Her aim is to persuade farmers to switch from cattle to iguanas. However harmless a herd of cows may appear, their hooves churn up what is left of forest ecosystems after slash - and - burn ranchers have cleared the trees. Iguanas, on the other hand, live and dine off trees. Studies by the Green Iguana Foundation, set up by Werner, show that the creatures can yield far more meat per hectare than cattle. …

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