Cullers have turned in 54,508 green iguanas since the start of this year.
According to the latest statistics on the Department of Environment website, 17,677 green iguanas were received at the George Town landfill in the last two weeks, 6,274 which were nabbed from 10-15 Feb.
Last year, 1.1 million iguanas were culled under the programme.
DoE’s Terrestrial Resources Unit Manager Fred Burton said the department expected the numbers of culled iguanas to start to fall as they reach diminishing returns on hatchlings that emerged last autumn, and “it’s starting to look that way now”.
Burton said through the culling efforts, the DoE hopes by August this year – before the majority of hatchlings emerge – to reduce the iguana population to about 20,000.
“That is ambitious, but it is good to have an ambitious goal,” he said.
But, he added, “Realistically, if we get down to 50,000 by then, we will be doing very well indeed.”
He said the DoE would need to evolve its culling strategies to get numbers down that low, adding that the department would advise the public when it makes those changes.
However, he said, at least for now, the numbers are looking good.
“It’s going to get harder and harder between now and September when most of the next hatch comes out, and the more adults we cull now, the fewer eggs will be laid in May-July. Once the eggs are in the ground, the plot is set for the hatching emergence later in the year,” Burton said.
The number of iguanas that have survived last year’s cull and that are still in the wild is unclear.
Burton said the DoE surveys the green iguana population twice a year, “but in between times, we have no way of accurately interpolating because the emergence of hatchlings extends over a long period of time, so we can’t just deduct the numbers culled and think that gives us an answer”.
Burton said the DoE would carry out its next population survey in April. “It’s a big effort – about two weeks for three staff in the field, plus a lot of data entry and analysis time. So, this isn’t something we can just do every month,” he explained.
Cull 2020 statistics
Week 1 (1-4 Jan.) – 594
Week 2 (6-11 Jan.) – 10,463
Week 3 (13-18 Jan. – 12,617
Week 4 (20-25 Jan.) – 5,648
Week 5 (28 Jan.-1 Feb.) – 7,509
Week 6 (3-8 Feb.) – 11,403
Week 7 (10-15 Feb.) – 6,274
Cull total – 54,508