In times where good news is hard to come by, today’s front page of the Caymanian Compass contains good news indeed: Cayman’s blue iguana population is growing at record levels.
From humble beginnings as a small project of the National Trust nearly 20 years ago through the formation of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, there have been people working hard to save Grand Cayman’s endemic iguana from extinction. Their hard work is paying off.
Considered extinct in the wild just four years ago, some 300 of the reptiles are now roaming free, mostly in Salina Reserve off the Queen’s Highway. Recent hatchings have been so successful that the Recovery Program has had to identify another 200-acre protection area for future releases of captive-bred blue iguanas.
In addition, overseas breeding programmes – which serve as a safety net for the survival of the species if something were to go terribly wrong here – are also reporting higher-than-usual hatchings.
Despite the recent success, however, the blue iguana remains critically endangered.
As we found out all too horribly last year, Cayman’s blue iguanas still face threats from predators like dogs. And if another hurricane were to affect Grand Cayman’s vegetation, the blues in the wild could face another difficult challenge.
It is therefore still very important that the community continues to show its support for the Blue Iguana Recovery Program to ensure that their numbers increase enough to face the many challenges of the wild. It is only through the support of individuals and businesses, as well as some international organisations, that the Blue Iguana Recovery Program is able to continue its work.
We congratulate the Recovery Program’s Director Fred Burton and his staff for their successes and thank them for their continued dedication to the important endeavour of keeping a true born-and-bred Caymanian species alive.