Blues pledges grow

Pledges for a reward fund have grown to over $11,000 for information about the killing of blue iguanas at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park last weekend. Money actually received totaled $1,500 as of yesterday morning.

Caymanian supermodel Selita Ebanks checks her picture of senior iguana warden John Marotta and Peter, the iguana

Caymanian supermodel Selita Ebanks checks her picture of senior iguana warden John Marotta and Peter, the iguana featured on the cover of this months Whats Hot magazine. Ms Ebanks later sponsored a female iguana at the Blue Iguana Recovery Pro-gramme facility. Photo: Carol Winker

Meanwhile, the number of dead blues increased to seven yesterday. Staff of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme had discovered Matthias, an adult male, dragging his left front leg on Tuesday. Before he could be taken for X-rays, he died.

‘He was a beautiful adult, just coming into his prime,’ said Fred Burton, director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme. He confirmed that Matthias had been with a female who was about ready to lay her eggs, so he could have produced offspring.

Mr. Burton said the remaining injured animals, Billy and Archie, were being carried to a veterinarian on Wednesday for more extensive examinations.

The news was bound to upset a community that is already disturbed by the unexplained attack, but response needs to be coordinated, said Carla Reid, chairperson of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. The Trust is the parent organisation for the blue iguana programme.

Contact person at the Trust office is Ms Caroline Key, Development and Marketing Manager. ‘We are truly appreciative of the overwhelming response from the community with regard to offering rewards, she said.

‘Although the National Trust will be facilitating the reward, we are advising our supporters that, in the interests of keeping a consistent message, Cayman Crime Stoppers will handle the production of all communications and promotional material relating to the appeal for information and payment of any rewards.’

Ms. Key can be contacted at the National Trust office by telephone at 949-0121 or e-mail [email protected]

Cayman Crime Stoppers has partnered with the Trust in an effort to bring to justice those responsible for killings.

Chairman Stuart Bostock explained an important distinction between reward pledges and information.

‘The public outrage following this atrocity has stimulated many generous reward offers,’ he said. ‘Cayman Crime Stoppers is advising the public that all offers of financial support for this particular appeal must be directed to the National Trust. However, information about the crime should be submitted to the Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line in Miami on 800 8477.’

Calls to this number are answered overseas and callers’ personal details are never requested so absolute anonymity can be guaranteed, Mr. Bostock emphasised.

Crime Stoppers rewards can only be authorised for payment if the information leading to the arrest was originally received via the Crime Stoppers TIPS line.

The loss of seven Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas, a critically endangered species, makes this a very serious crime, Mr. Bostock pointed out. Additional information on the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme and community support will be issued by the National Trust, he said. Investigation updates will be issued at the appropriate times by the Royal Cayman Islands Police.

‘It is extremely important that legalities, regulations and procedures do not get overlooked as both the Crime Stoppers program and the course of justice could be compromised,’ Mr. Bostock warned.

Caymanian supermodel Selita Ebanks, young businessman Luigi Moxam and dms Broadcasting Ltd. were among supporters of Blue Iguana recovery programme and the reward fund.

dms Organization Ltd, which operates four radio stations, pledged $5,000 for the reward fund.

‘We are outraged by this despicable crime against these much-loved native animals,’ commented Don Seymour, president.