Blue rock IguanaJul 30th, 2002 | By admin | Category: Blues in the Local Press
Report says blue iguana population decreasing drastically
AP – 7/26/2002
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – A new study showing a drastic decline in the population of the Grand Cayman blue iguana has prompted a U.S. foundation to take preventative action, the Cayman Islands’ National Trust said.
The Texas-based International Iguana Foundation announced in a statement Wednesday that it would grant an undisclosed amount to save the reptiles.
The decision is based on a report issued last week by the trust that estimates that only 10 to 25 blue iguanas remain in the wild, down from 100 to 200 estimated in a 1993 survey.
These new figures make blue iguanas one of the most critically endangered reptile species in the world, said Fred Burton, director of the trust’s Iguana Recovery Program.
Including those in captivity in the British Caribbean territory and at U.S. zoos and aquariums, an estimated total of 91 to 120 blue iguanas exist worldwide, he said.
The report concluded that without intervention, blue iguanas could be extinct within five years.
The report said their natural habitat had shrunk by half to 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) from 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) due to expanding development and human population growth. Feral cats kill young iguanas while adult iguanas are often killed by domestic dogs or hit by cars.
“It is clear that the future of wild blue iguanas must now rest on managed populations in protected areas,” Burton said.
He said the trust has managed a captive breeding facility since 1990, releasing a small number of iguanas at a botanic park on Grand Cayman that has now has a population of about 30 of the iguanas.
A grant from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, through the Iguana Foundation, will support the purchase of construction materials, but additional funding is still needed, Burton said.
He said there are 10 U.S. facilities participating in a captive breeding plan by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
These zoos and aquariums – in Bermuda, Washington D.C., Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, Georgia, Texas, Indiana, Florida and Illinois – now have a total of 24 blue iguanas, which they hope to increase to at least 225.
The blue iguana is only found in the wild on Grand Cayman. It is a subspecies of the Cuban rock iguana and is closely related to the rock iguana found on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.