Sixteen tutor groups from John Gray High School’s Year 11 have raised CI$1,363 to sponsor 13 young Blue Iguanas which are being released into the wild.
On 7 December a student delegation from the participating groups came to the National Trust’s Blue Iguana Recovery Program captive breeding facility, at the QE II Botanic Park. The funds were accumulated from voluntary student contributions over three months, collected in shoe boxes decorated with Blue Iguana images, with tutor groups vying for top fund raising place, said a press release.
The biggest individual contributor, Shandi Tatum, handed the final cheque to the BIRP Director, Fred Burton.
The students then split into small groups to visit and name the individual iguanas they had sponsored. Lily, Lisa, Angelina, Shanelly, Chandelle, Tupac, Samaroo, Jenna, Dansharae, Sherine, Smokie, Destiny and Prodigal Son have been formally named in anticipation of their release.
The BIRP is in the midst of the largest release ever into the National Trust’s Salina Reserve in north-eastern Grand Cayman. Ninety-five young Blue Iguanas were released into the dry shrubland areas of the Salina in 2004 and 2005. This year a further 114 are scheduled to go free there. Each one has been reared in captivity until it is large enough to stand an excellent chance of survival.
The release is being carried out by a team of international volunteers, Team Blue 2006, coordinated by the BIRP’s partner the International Reptile Conservation Foundation. The team’s work is funded by IRCF, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Working with BIRP staff and local volunteers, Team Blue 2006 has been building iguana retreats, hiking them out on rough trails and placing them strategically in the interior of the Salina. They then do health screenings, tag the young iguanas and free them in their designated retreats.
The retreats will form the iguanas’ home bases as they adjust to life in the wild.