Protect Cayman’s diverse ecosystems

The private individuals who are at the forefront of preserving and protecting Cayman’s flora and fauna, through their donations or time, should be applauded for their efforts. The National Trust has made valiant attempts at promoting and maintaining the biodiversity of our islands. It is important that they continue to receive unabated support from the local community.

The major threat facing our local ecosystems, apart from development, is the illegal importation of plant and animal species. It is impossible for every piece of luggage or container to be checked 100 per cent by a Customs officer, so they cannot be blamed.

Individuals who get the passionate idea to smuggle in foreign species from another country (usually in the form of seeds, eggs, or younglings) and later plant or release them into the environment are not doing the islands a favour. Releasing live, legally imported pets, such as fish, birds and lizards, can also have a negative impact on local biodiversity.

It is feared that the more agile imported iguanas may threaten the local indigenous species that are on the brink of extinction in the wild. The last personal witness of this animal in the wild occurred prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This local iguana can grow up to six feet in length but are few in number and dwindling fast. The newly imported iguanas will eventually compete for limited food resources, adding more stress to the locals.

Cayman’s ecosystems are under assault but hope should not be lost. Many of our mangroves, brackish water ponds and lakes need to be protected and preserved since they support a myriad of wildlife. Colliers Pond is a good candidate since it supports many different species of birds and other animals, and is in an area undergoing heavy development. Observation decks in the area would be a plus to ecotourism.

B. Christian