Walkers donates big to blues

$20,000 to recovery programme

Walkers has fulfilled an earlier pledge to donate CI$60,000 to the National Trust’s Blue Iguana Recovery Programme.

Walkers iguana donation

From left to right are Fred Burton, director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme; Frank Balderamos, National Trust general manager; John Marotta, blue iguana warden and David Byrne, chief marketing officer at Walkers with Stanley the blue iguana. Photo: Submitted

The law firm recently made its third annual CI$20,000 donation to help the critically endangered reptiles following a commitment made on becoming one of the Trust’s Gold Sponsors in 2006.

‘Corporate sponsorships like this are absolutely key to the ongoing operation of our programme, said Programme Director Fred Burton.

‘Now we are entering a new and exciting phase of operations with a new protected area, I also hope that Walkers’ example may inspire others to join in helping us secure the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana’s future for the long term,’ he added.

A release by the firm noted that the Programme had received a major boost earlier this year when government decided to protect a large area of blue iguana habitat in the east interior of Grand Cayman. The newly protected area has given almost 200 acres more capacity for the project, adding to the 85 acres of good blue iguana habitat which had previously been available, the statement adds.

‘The achievements of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme are nothing short of remarkable and have helped ensure the survival of this species, which had been so close to extinction just a few years ago,’ said the firm’s Chief Marketing Officer, David Byrne.

‘Walkers is proud to have supported the Programme and we were delighted to hear that the new protected land brings into sight their ultimate goal of releasing a thousand blue iguanas to the wild,’ he said.

To date, 290 ‘blues,’ as they are affectionately known, have been released into the wild as a result of the Programme, said Mr. Burton, the majority of these having been released in the Salina Reserve. ‘The remnant wild population in 2002 was estimated at less than 25, so we are making progress in the right direction,’ he added.

The donation is one of several initiatives the firm has promoted to boost the recovery efforts of the endemic reptile.

FYI

?The Blue Iguana has been a favourite symbol of Cayman for the staff at Walkers for a number of years.

?In 2003, the firm had custom designed blue iguana stuffed toys made to promote the firm and the Cayman Islands at overseas conferences. Such is the appeal of the powder blue plushies; they are now an important part of the firm’s global marketing effort.

?Many of the toys are donated to the gift shops at the National Trust and the National Gallery, with profits helping to support local educational and arts programmes.

?Walkers’ staff made a direct financial contribution to improving security for the ‘blues’ last year, after a number of blue iguanas were killed in 2008. The CI$6,476 collected in July 2008 was the largest sum that the National Trust had ever received from a corporate dress down event.

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