Rock iguana ‘Nelson’ reappears

It’s been nearly a year since Nelson, a large Sister Islands rock iguana that was injured on a Cayman Brac road, returned to her home on the island after getting medical treatment in Grand Cayman and sheltering in a Department of Environment officer’s bathroom. 

For several months after she was released back into the wild, there was no sign on the Brac of Nelson, leading those who had been involved in her rescue and recovery to worry that she may not have recovered after all. 

But Bonnie Scott, who played a big role in saving the iguana, said that Nelson was spotted late last month and seems to be doing well. 

“For weeks, I’ve been hearing about an iguana crossing Dennis Foster Road near the high school and today I saw it basking and got a good zoom of the beads. It’s Nelson,” she said. “I’ve been asked repeatedly whatever happened to Nelson, but didn’t know until today. I think she has been doing what iguanas should and enjoying life in the wild since, until recently, no one had seen her since last July.” 

“It could be that she is moving about more now due to nesting season. Where I saw her today is 1.25 miles from our house where she was released. It is very good news that she didn’t try to return to her old home site on the south side and this may support a hypothesis that it is males who are territorial and not females,” Ms Scott Edwards said. 

With many iguanas moving about and crossing roads during mating and nesting season, drivers are being urged to be more careful on the roads to avoid hitting the animals, which are a critically-endangered species. 

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment has issued a flyer asking drivers to be cautious. It asks motorists to drive with extra caution along Dennis Foster Road, Bluff Road, West End Road East, Songbird Drive and South Side Road, both east and west of the crossover. 

“Nelson looks healthy and seemed calm and yet apprehensive enough to go off into the bush when I got too close with the camera. She was moving very well and showed no signs of a limp,” Ms Scott Edwards said. 

Nelson was airlifted to Grand Cayman in April last year for treatment of a broken leg after likely been hit by a car on South Side Road. She initially recovered at the home of former Department of Environment officer Mat Cottam in Grand Cayman and in July was flown back to Cayman Brac, where she recuperated at Ms Scott Edwards’s home before being released.  

A survey of the population of rock iguanas on Cayman Brac carried out last year showed there were 86 of the endangered animals on the island. Several have been killed on the local roads since then. 


Nelson the rock iguana has re-emerged at Dennis Foster Road near where she was released in July last year. – PHOTO: SUBMITTED


  1. Telling drivers to slow down is useless. The best way to accomplish this is to have signs saying Drive Slowly – Endangered Species with pictures of iguanas on them AND speed bumps.

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