Blue Iguana loss tragic, says MinisterMay 14th, 2008 | By admin | Category: Blues in the Local Press
Blue Iguana loss tragic, says Minister
Cayman Net News Online
Published on Tuesday, May 14, 2008
Hon Charles Clifford
Hon Charles Clifford, Minister for Tourism and the Environment, said the entire Cayman community has been overcome by the loss of seven of its endemic Blue Iguanas this month.
“Residents are united in sorrow and disbelief at such an unimaginable tragedy. As a people, we pride ourselves on our gentle nature and deep respect for the environment,” he said.
The Blue Iguana Recovery Programme was pioneered by the National Trust under the leadership of environmentalist and Director of the programme, Fred Burton, to save the Blue Iguanas, which are found only on Grand Cayman.
Supported by Government, with donations from the local business community, the Programme facilitates captive breeding of the endangered Iguanas at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, which are later released into their natural habitat.
Thanking the local and international community for its outpouring of support during this horrific incident, Mr Clifford noted that it has occurred at a time when Cayman is taking important steps, through major changes to the country’s environmental laws, to provide greater protection for its endangered and endemic species.
He specifically cited the move to introduce a National Conservation Law aimed at updating existing legislation to help safeguard Cayman’s endemic and endangered plant and animal species.
“As united as we are in our grief, Caymanians stand together in our resolve to protect our endangered and endemic fauna and flora. They are more than just a part of our landscape, they are part of our heritage and of who we are as a people,” the Minister said.
Mr Clifford also expressed gratitude to the management and staff of the National Trust and the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme who have dedicated themselves to the recovery programme, and whose commitment was clear from their relentless effort to save the injured animals.
“School children, the business community, residents at large and visitors to the Cayman Islands have all contributed to the success of the Recovery Programme through their generosity, fascination and enthusiasm for the Blue Iguanas, but none more so than the caregivers,” he said.
Adding that the iguanas have brought joy and entertainment to all who have experienced them, he urged Caymanians and visitors alike to continue to support the Recovery Programme through their kind donations and visits to the nature reserve.
Fred Burton, pioneer of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme said:
“This loss is a horrific setback, but it will not derail the programme. We still have enough iguanas surviving in the captive stock to meet the goals of our recovery initiative, it will just take longer now.”
Department of Environment Director, Gina Ebanks-Petrie, lauded the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme for its great strides in bringing back this rarest of lizards from extinction over the last 14 years.
She explained that iguanas in general are protected under Cayman’s current environmental laws, but added that she looks forward to the passage of the National Conservation Law, which will strengthen protection for the Blue Iguana.
Turning to the investigation, she expressed confidence in the authorities who are investigating the loss of the seven Blues.
“The Royal Cayman Islands Police, the Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary and Animal Welfare Officers and the Department of Environment’s own enforcement officers are all working closely together to ensure that a thorough and efficient investigation into this terrible incident is carried out,” she said.