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Conservation of Utila Black Iguana in Honduras


This project is dedicated mainly to the Utila Black Iguana, endemic to this small island in Honduras. This iguana is in critical danger of extinction because of the hunting and the disappearance of its habitat: the mangrove and the sandy beach. Volunteers are an integral part of the safeguarding program and will be able to take part in the various actions carried out within the mission: monitoring of wild populations, breeding program, maintenance of enclosures and equipment of the station, or environmental education with tourists and school children. The participation is at least 3 weeks, time necessary to invest concretely for the survival of the Black Iguana of Utila, but also to discover the natural beauties of this island of the archipelago of Las Islas de la Bahía.

DUREE : 3 minimum weeks

DATES : all year

ACTIVITY : Research Station, Full Nature

SPECIES : Utila Black Iguana, Ctenosaura bakeri

WORK LANGUAGE : English (minimum level B1)

PHYSICAL LEVEL : easy to moderate

INVOLVEMENT : 5 days 1 / 2 per week, 7 hours per day

PUBLIC : Any public over 18 years, individuals, eco-solidarity holidays, students



The backup program of Utila's Black Iguana, Ctenosaura bakeri, exists since 20 years. This species, endemic to the Isle of Utila (we do not find it in the wild anywhere else in the world), passed close to extinction in the 1990 years. The major causes of his disappearance being the hunt for meat and the disappearance of its natural habitats. Mangrove forests are used as landfills or deforested for the construction of houses, infrastructure or marinas. The beaches on which females lay are destroyed to make way for hotels or roads, and invasive alien plants colonize the soil of beaches near mangroves, rendering them unsuitable for nest building.
Utila's Black Iguana, or Swamper, is protected from 1994. This status, combined with environmental education efforts, has reduced hunting, although poaching still exists. The main concern is the preservation of Swamper's natural habitats, namely mangroves and sandy beaches. The mission in which the ecovolunteers participate, works on several levels at once: the conservation of the Swamper (breeding program), the scientific research on the Black Iguana but also on other native species, the reforestation of the mangrove, and environmental education of tourists and schoolchildren.
Strongly involved in the environmental management of the island, the project also invests ecovolunteers in the monitoring of sea turtle laying on the beaches, bird populations, or invasive species such as Raccoon or Coati. white nose.
Ecovolunteers participating in this project are involved in all stages of the program and in all actions carried out in the field. The project also welcomes students as part of their internship.

Location / Habitat

This mission takes place on the island of Utila, Honduras. Utila is the smallest island of the archipelago of Las Islas de Bahía (Bay Islands), but the richest in biodiversity! The island has several very distinct ecosystems and rubs: coral reef, coastal vegetation, mangrove, tropical forest, neotropical savannah .... The coral reef, the second largest reef in the world behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, is particularly dense in marine fauna and is now recognized worldwide as a diving spot. Utila offers many natural resources easily accessible on foot or by bike.

The island is inhabited by a fairly typical cultural mix: English-speaking Hondurans and Hispanics, and many international expatriates.


The average annual temperature of the island is 29 ° C, with a warmer season in "summer", between March and October. The humidity is high throughout the year, but the rainy season is from October to January, when the rains will be more dense than during the rest of the year.

To learn more about local weather conditions.


The Black Iguana of Utila, Ctenosaura bakeri, is a large iguana that can reach 70 cm long. This species is endemic to the island of Utila (Hondulas), it lives exclusively in the mangroves and lays on the sandy beaches.

The Utila mangrove forest covers 8 km² of the island's surface and offers the only habitat for adults and young iguanas. The females leave the mangrove every year to lay eggs on the beaches where their eggs will naturally be incubated under the heat of the sun.

Today Utila's Black Iguana is considered critically endangered (IUCN Red List). The growing tourist activity of the island is in direct conflict with the conservation of this species, particularly because of the development and urbanization of the beaches of the island. Its survival will therefore depend essentially on the protection of non-exploited beaches for tourism. The authorities still lack the means to act concretely and NGOs remain the only hope of survival for this species.

Utila offers a rich biological diversity to naturalist visitors. Several other endemic species can be observed, such as the Roatán Island agouti, Dasyprocta ruatanicaendemic to the Bay Islands, or the Chachacala d'Utila, Ortalis vetula deschauensei, a species thought to be completely extinct until recent observations.

Involvement ecovolunteer

Since 20 years, ecovolunteers are a crucial part of the survival of this project. No knowledge or skills are required to register. The ecovolunteers can be involved in the different actions carried out by the project, depending on the season and the program in progress, but also their know-how!

3's main programs are conducted: the breeding program, the research program, and environmental education. In addition, the volunteers are brought to participate in the daily work carried out within the center: Feeding Iguanas in captivity,Food collection for Iguanas, Animal feeding terrariums, Insect collection, Maintenance of the organic garden, Maintenance of pens and infrastructure center, ...


During the breeding season Swampers females lay their eggs on the beach. Ecovolunteers and project members delicately collect these eggs to incubate artificially in optimal conditions.

In parallel, females are taken from different nesting sites, they will be released in their natural environment after laying their eggs in the center.

These two joint actions make it possible on the one hand to ensure a maximum survival rate of eggs and young iguanas, and on the other hand to increase the genetic mixing in the Black Iguana population of the island.

The breeding season is between February and August each year. The ecovolunteers will participate during this period in the preparation of the cages; collection and inventory of females on beaches; releasing females after they have laid eggs; collecting eggs laid on beaches; monitoring the incubation of eggs; to release newborns and juveniles from the previous year, ....


Every month, volunteers help monitor wild Island Iguanas and other wildlife:

  • Monitoring wild populations: Utila Black Iguana, Ctenosaura bakeri, and Roatán Island Agouti, Dasyprocta ruatanica, two endemic species; and also the tracking of invasive species such as Raccoon, Procyon lotor, or the white-nosed coati, Nasua narica.
  • Monitoring the state of health of the mangrove,
  • Reforestation of the mangrove,
  • Tracking sea turtles and their eggs,
  • Monitoring resident and migratory bird populations,
  • Monitoring coastal erosion.

Environmental Education Program

The project opens its doors to visitors every day of the week and the volunteers take care of the visits to the tourists.

3 days a week schools also receive environmental education lessons, other actions are also organized throughout the year. Volunteers can take part in this program.


The project accepts interns. Applications must be made at least 6 months in advance and will be accepted on a case by case, depending on availability and the candidate's profile. The project will offer in advance, in consultation with the student and the university, the subject of the course.

Mission costs are the same for eco-volunteers and trainees.

Internship applications must be made to Cybelle PlanèteWe will help you in your efforts.

Requirements and constraints

You do not need special qualifications to be ecovoluntary to this mission. Once on site you will receive the necessary support.

  • You must be at least 18 years old,
  • You must be able to work in a team,
  • You must be able to walk 2 hours a day on average,
  • You must speak English, Spanish is a plus but is not required.
  • You must have full travel insurance (including emergency medical assistance and repatriation).

Before you register:

  • It is important to read the detailed documentation to download.
  • You will need to return the medical fitness form (attached to the detailed documentation) completed and signed by you and your attending physician.
  • In order to maximize your stay, we ask you to send us a letter of motivation in English (by email This e-mail address is protected against spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Language (s) used (s)

English - The minimum English level required is B1: view details you self-assess

Conditions for minors

Children older than 16, accompanied by their parent (s), are welcome. This will however have to be accepted by the project staff, depending on the current research activities. The young ecovolunteer will have to write a letter of motivation in English.

The project points out that the center is not an environment with all the security for children. The children will stay with their parents who will be responsible for their actions. The fee for minors is the same as for adults.

For participants minors, parents must provide a disclaimer to Cybelle Planet.


Example of a mission of 3 weeks:

1 day: arrival on the island of Utila, supported by the project, rest

2 Day: presentation of places and program

3 Day to 20: participation in different field actions, depending on the time of year and needs

21 day: departure of the project.


You are hosted within the project in the research center. The building is equipped to house 16 people, in dormitories of 2 to 4 people. Two bathrooms (no hot water) and 2 toilets are available.

The ecovolunteers do their shopping and prepare their own meals. An equipped kitchen is at their disposal and it is easily possible to shop in the shops or eat in local restaurants.


The project can accommodate up to 12 ecovolunteers at a time.


Eco-volunteers are welcome all year round for a minimum of 3 weeks of participation.

Covid-19: postponement of dates

Following the Coronavirus Pandemic, participation in this mission will only be possible from December 2020. See information related to Covid-19.

Travel Information

Ecovolunteers organize their own trip to the island of Utila, by plane or ferry. You are welcomed at the airport or at the exit of the Ferry when you arrive at Utila, and drive to the project (this transfer is free).


Your eco-volunteer participation is added to your biodiversity donation. For each mission, the amount of the Biodiversity Donation is calculated according to the needs of the project and, if you go on a mission, this donation varies according to the time you will spend on site. Your donation will be used to cover its material, personnel and reception needs for volunteers. learn more about Don Biodiversity

The costs of the ecovolunteers' missions consist of : your biodiversity donation and your membership in the mission, and non-tax deductible costs (ex: insurance, additional heating costs, over-classification of your accommodation - if offered)

Compensation for the impact of your trip

Cybelle planet pledges to reduceimpact of long-haul flights on the environment. For this, we no longer accept entries of less than two weeks (outside Europe). In order to offset greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of your trip, Cybelle Planète has set up specific measures : minimum duration of 2 weeks of participation for long-haul flights, territorial and carbon compensation fund, amount of reduced donations for missions of duration of 3 weeks minimum ...

We consider that a stay of at least 3 weeks, during which you have a positive action for local biodiversity (ex: eco-volunteering mission), and where you adopt a responsible mode of travel, partially offsets your emissions at the regional level. For participations of less than 3 weeks, a lump sum of € 100 is added to your biodiversity donation and will be dedicated to our compensation fund. Cybelle Planète will thus finance carbon offset programs and the development of new missions that fall within the scope of territorial offset.

Amount of Don Biodiversity

  • 3 weeks of participation: 337 €
  • Per extra week: 104 €

tax deduction : For individuals, participation entitles you to a tax deduction of 66%. So a donation of 337 € will only cost you 115 €.

For companies, the participation of your employees entitles you to a tax deduction of 60%. So a donation of 337 € will only cost you 135 €.

Annual fee

Cybelle Planète is a French law association 1901, ecovolunteer stays are reserved for members who are members of their annual subscription of 50 €. This membership automatically gives you access to insurance (including liability, repatriation, medical expenses). Membership in Cybelle Planète is subject to a tax receipt. Learn more about memberships

Your budget

The hosting project supports:

  • accommodation,
  • supervision by members of the project,
  • your transfer from the airport or the Utila Ferry Terminal to the project,

You remain at your expense:

  • your trip to Utila,
  • your food,
  • expenses incurred (drinks, restaurant, ....) that remain at your expense,
  • your complementary travel insurance (mandatory), including a Cancellation, Air / Train Delay, Baggage, Interruption of Stay.

Travel arrangements

You must organize your own trip to the project: transport, visa, vaccinations if necessary, ....

You will find on our website information concerning visas.

Cybelle Planet can arrange for you to book your airline ticketsThis service is optional.

Conditions of participation

The general conditions of participation in eco-volunteering mission from Cybelle Planet are available online.

Commitment ecovolunteer

Before committing yourself as a Volunteer, you must have read and accepted the charter of ecovolunteers.


In addition to the insurance included in your membership, you must take out cancellation insurance, loss or damage to luggage, and flight delay. Cybelle Planète will offer you insurance during your pre-registration or you can subscribe one by yourself. A certificate of insurance will be required before departure. To learn more about insurance

ethical commitments Cybelle Planète

The Cybelle Planet associationcommitted to the ecovolunteering charter. We have always chosen sharing, equity and solidarity for all our actions.

Tax deduction

Participation in our eco-volunteering mission is reserved for our "support" members.

Ecovolunteers pay Cybelle Planète a Biodiversity Donation in addition to their commitment in the field.

Only the Biodiversity Gift and membership entitles you to a tax deduction (For companies or persons subject to corporation tax or income tax in France).

Medical fitness form

Your registration can not be validated unless we have received your medical fitness form completed and signed by you and your attending physician.

In order to avoid possible difficulties, we ask you to describe to us, as honestly as possible, your physical and emotional state.
Regardless of the medical situation, all projects are designed to accept as many participants as possible. For this reason, they remain attentive and are very understanding of the various health problems a candidate may have. All solutions are considered to enable the candidate to participate in the project, regardless of his or her state of health, and to the extent possible.
The consequences of misleading and / or omitted medical declarations can be very restrictive for the entire team involved in the mission, and in some cases dangerous (missions on the high seas, in very isolated sites, etc.). So, Any false declaration, omission or false information may be sanctioned by the immediate and definitive exclusion of the participant At its own expense and upon the exclusive and unilateral decision of the project.

Download the form for a francophone mission

Download the form for an English speaking mission


An ECOVOLONTAIRE T-shirt is offered for any registration to an ecovolunteer mission.

Note that no resumption or exchange is possible, we invite you to consult the description and the size guide .

Testimonials for this mission ecovolunteers