Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Lacertidae

Scientific Name: Gallotia simonyi
Species Authority: (Steindachner, 1889)
Common Name(s):
English El Hierro Giant Lizard, Hierro Giant Lizard
French Lézard De Simony
Spanish Lagarto Gigante de El Hierro

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(v)+2ab(v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-14
Assessor(s): Jose Antonio Mateo Miras, Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Iñigo Martínez-Solano
Reviewer(s): Cox, N. and Temple, H.J. (Global Reptile Assessment)
Listed as Critically Endangered because its Extent of Occurrence is less than 100 km2 and its Area Of Occupancy is less than 10km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and although it is no longer experiencing a continuing population decline, it has only been increasing since 2002 (and declines might have resumed since control of feral cats has stopped).
Previously published Red List assessments:
2006 Critically Endangered (CR)
1996 Critically Endangered (CR)
1994 Endangered (E)
1990 Endangered (E)
1988 Endangered (E)
1986 Endangered (E)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to the island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands (Spain). The species was once present throughout much of the island and on the small offshore Roque Chico de Salmor. It is currently restricted to the southern end of the Risco de Tibataje, in la Fuga de Gorreta, located between Guinea and the so-called Paso del Pino (an area of about four hectares), with reintroduced populations on the Roque Chico de Salmor, and at Julan and la Dehesa on El Hierro. The species ranges between 350 and 500m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Lower elevation limit (metres): 350
Upper elevation limit (metres): 500
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population of this species is about 300 to 400 animals in the wild (including re-introduced populations)..
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is now confined to a small areas of cliff with sparse vegetation. The species is believed to have once occurred throughout much of El Hierro, being only absent from areas of laurel forest. It is a largely herbivorous species. It has two clutches of five to thirteen eggs.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat to this species is predation by feral cats, and possibly also by dogs and rats. A remnant population was extirpated from the Roque Chico de Salmor in the 1930s through the overcollection of animals for scientific institutions and commercial interests. Control of feral cats stopped in in 2002.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: A recovery plan for this species has been developed, and captive-breeding and reintroduction programmes are in place. The species was successfully reintroduced to the Roque Chico de Salmor in 1999, and subsequent reintroductions have taken place at Julan and at la Dehesa. Continued control of feral cats should be resumed to allow population recovery. This species is protected by national and international legislation. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Both la Fuga de Gorreta and the Roque Chico de Salmor are protected areas.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.8. Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
suitability: Suitable  
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Suitable  
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Felis catus)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Canis familiaris)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Research
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Arnold, E.N. 2003. Reptiles and amphibians of Europe. Princeton University Press., Princeton and Oxford.

Arnold, E.N., Arribas, O. and Carranza, S. 2007. Systematics of the Palaearctic and Oriental lizards tribe Lacertini (Squamata: Lacertidae: Lacertinae), with descriptions of eight new genera. Zootaxa, 1430: 1-86..

Barahona, F., Evans, S.E., Mateo, J.A., Garcia-Márquez, M. and López-Jurado, L.F. 2000. Endemism, gigantism and extinction in island lizards: the genus Gallotia on the Canary Islands. J. Zool. (London): 373-388.

Bischoff, W. 1985. Die Herpetofauna der Kanarischen Inseln. Herpetofauna: 11-22.

Bischoff, W. 1998. Bemerkungen zu den "fossilen" Rieseneidechsen der Kanarischen Inseln. In: Bischoff, W. (ed.), Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas. Bd. 6. Die Reptilien der Kanarischen Inseln, der Selvagens-Inseln und des Madeira Archipels., pp. 387-407. Aula-Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Bischoff, W. 2000. Rieseneidechsen auf La Gomera. Elaphe: 78-81.

Böhme, W. and Bings, W. 1975. Zur Frage des Überlebens von Lacerta s. simonyi Steindachner (Sauria: Lacertidae). Salamandra: 39-46.

Carranza, S., Arnold, E.N., Thomas, R.H., Mateo, J.A. and López-Jurado, L.F. 1999. Status of the extinct giant lacertid lizard Gallotia simonyi simonyi (Reptilia: Lacertidae) assessed using mtDNA sequences from museum specimens. Herpetological Journal.: 83-86.

Hernández, E., Nogales, N. and Martín, A. 2000. Discovery of a new lizard in the Canary Islands, with a multivariant analysis of Gallotia (Reptilia: Lacertidae). Herpetologica 56(1): 63-76.

IUCN. 2009. European Species on the IUCN Red List. Available at: (Accessed: 22 June 2009).

López-Jurado, L.F. and Mateo, J.A. 1999. El Lagarto de El Hierro: Bases para su conservación. Monografías de Herpetología.

Pérez-Mellado, V., Arano, B., Astudillo, G., Cejudo, D., García-Márquez, M., Llorente, G., Márquez, R., Mateo, J.A., Orrit, N., Romero-Beviá, M. and López-Jurado, L.-F. 1997. Recovery plan for the giant lizard of Hierro Island (Canary Islands), Gallotia simonyi: Project outline and preliminary results. In: Böhme, W., Bischoff, W. and Ziegler, T. (eds), Herpetologia Bonnensis, pp. 285-295.

Pleguezuelos, J.M., Márquez, R. and Lizana, M. 2002. Atlas y Libro Rojo de los Anfibios y Reptiles de España. Dirección General de la Conservación de la naturaleza-Associación Herpetológica Española., Madrid.

Rodríguez-Domínguez, M.A., Castillo, C., Coello, J.J. and Molina-Borja, M. 1998. Morphological variation in the lacertid Gallotia simonyi machadoi and a comparison with the extinct Gallotia simonyi simonyi from el Hierro (Canary Islands). Herpetological Journal: 85-91.

Sindaco, R. and Jeremčenko, V.K. 2008. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic. 1. Annotated Checklist and Distributional atlas of the turtles, crocodiles, amphisbaenians and lizards of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy).

Citation: Jose Antonio Mateo Miras, Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Iñigo Martínez-Solano. 2009. Gallotia simonyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T8881A12935900. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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