Blue Iguanas in East End are nearly extinctJul 16th, 2002 | By admin | Category: Blue in the News, Press releases
Blue Iguanas living wild in the East End interior are very nearly extinct..
Dateline: July 16, 2002 ~ Grand Cayman
Contact Name: Fred Burton
July 16, 2002, Grand Cayman – Blue Iguanas living wild in the East End interior are very nearly extinct, according to a survey just completed by the National Trust’s Blue Iguana Conservation Project.
The wild Blue Iguana population was last surveyed in 1993. About 150 were estimated to be surviving at that time. In the nine years since, the area occupied by the iguanas has halved, and the overall population has crashed by about 90 percent. Today only between 10 and 25 remain alive in the wild. Changes in land use, road kills, and losses to rats, cats and dogs are the main causes of this catastrophic decline.
Although the wild population is plunging towards extinction, the Trust’s captive breeding program in the Botanic Park offers more hope. A managed population of about 30 captive-bred Blue Iguanas is now living free in the Park, where they have become a significant visitor attraction. These iguanas started breeding in 2000, and this year they laid six nests.
“It looks like the future for wild Blue Iguanas now lies in managed populations in protected areas” says volunteer project director, Fred Burton. “But the Botanic Park can only support about 60 or so. To take the Blue Iguana off the endangered species list, we need to be targeting more like 1,000 restored to the wild.”
International interest and support for saving the Blue Iguana has grown rapidly since last November, when a Species Recovery Plan was developed with the IUCN Iguana Specialist Group. This plan addresses the need for additional protected iguana habitat, and calls for the captive breeding and release programme to be scaled up considerably.
Ironically, the plight of the Blue Iguana may yet be its salvation, as this giant blue reptile is becoming an international conservation symbol.
The Species Recovery Plan for the Blue Iguana can be viewed on www.cyclura.com.
Blue Iguana Conservation Programme,
National Trust for the Cayman Islands