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The Iguana Blues - Blue Iguana Recovery Program Blue Iguana Recovery Program

The Iguana Blues

Jul 30th, 2002 | By | Category: Blues in the International Press

Extinction is threatening the blue iguana, but donations could save this species

By PAUL BOURGEOIS
Fort Worth & Region
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
FORT WORTH – Without a quick $200,000, the Grand Cayman blue iguana’s prospects for survival are bleak, according to the Fort Worth-based International Iguana Foundation.

The Grand Cayman blue iguana, which can grow up to 5 feet long, is the most endangered of the roughly 20 types of iguanas hanging on around the world, said Rick Hudson, a conservation biologist at the Fort Worth Zoo who doubles as program officer for the IIF.

The blue iguana’s population in the wild, estimated at 100 to 200 in 1993, has plummeted. There now are 10 to 25 in the wild, according to a report July 22 by Fred Burton, director of the Iguana Recovery Program in the Cayman Islands. About 30 survive at a Cayman Island refuge. Another 24 live in zoos.

‘In the wild, the population is functionally extinct,’ Hudson said.

Their best hope for survival is to expand the Cayman Island refuge. The organization said more land would help them grow the blue iguana population to the 1,000 needed to ensure survival.

Hudson said $200,000 also would pay people to manage the larger refuge.

‘With reptile conservation, you can achieve a lot of good without tremendous expense,’ Hudson said. ‘We’re at the point where a single person can save a species. It could be their legacy.’

‘The point is that if we can’t draw a line and save this species, it does not bode well for others that are endangered. Every species has an inherent right to be here, and when one dies, the quality of life for everyone is diminished.’

Hudson said Cayman Island development has encroached on the iguanas’ habitat. Many juveniles are killed by feral cats and stray dogs. Many of those that survive to adulthood are killed by cars.

Burton said there is no hope that wild iguanas will come back unassisted.

‘In the long term, it is clear that the future of wild blue iguanas must now rest on managed populations in protected areas,’ Burton said. ‘Sufficient protected habitat does not currently exist to support the numbers of wild iguanas that are needed to secure the future of this species. Additional protected habitat for blue iguanas is therefore essential.’

The zoos and aquariums that have blue iguanas are the Bermuda Aquarium; the National Zoo, Washington D.C.; Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kan.; Tulsa Zoo, Tulsa, Okla.; Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, N.Y.; St. Catherine’s Island Wildlife Survival Center, Midway, Ga.; Gladys Porter Zoo, Brownsville; Indianapolis Zoo; Central Florida Zoo, Sanford, Fla.; and the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago.

Iguana information:

Write The International Iguana Foundation, 1989 Colonial Parkway, Fort Worth 76110 (attention: Rick Hudson) or call (817) 759-7177. Or online, go to www.cyclura.com.

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