Scientific Name: Cyclura ricordi
IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered
Description: This species can be distinguished by having longer spines on the crest (neck) than the body and distinct, enlarged spinose scales at each caudal vertical (tail ring). Their distinct color pattern consists of five to six bold pale gray chevrons alternating with dark gray to black chevrons, of which five continue as bold but narrow lines diagonally onto the venter (underside). In adults, the dark chevrons are less contrasting than in juveniles.
Distribution: Southwestern Dominican Republic and southeastern Haiti. It was thought that this species may have been extirpated from Haiti completely, leaving only 3 small subpopulations in the Dominican Republic. In 2008, IIF supported research discovered one small remaining population in Anse-A-Pitres, Haiti.
Habitat: Ricord’s iguanas are highly specialized and several variables affect suitability of habitat including soil depth and texture, landform, and climate. This species is highly associated with thorn scrub woodlands. Retreats include limestone crevices in addition to soil burrows however, Ricord's iguanas prefer to dig soil burrows which they continue to expand over time. Hollow tree trunks and rock cavities are also used for retreats when soil is unavailable. Retreat entrances are generally dug under dense thorny vegetation, shrubs, stumps, or exposed rocks.
Reproduction: Nesting sites are in fine sandy areas separate from burrow sites. Egg laying is synchronized with the start of the rainy season and average clutch size is 11 eggs but varies between 2 -18.
Notes: One of two rock iguana species on the large island of Hispaniola, the Ricord's iguana is restricted to a very limited range in the southwest of the Dominican Republic (DR) and Anse-A-Pitres, Haiti. The DR population is divided into three small subpopulations. The DR has two protected areas, Isla Cabritos in Lago Enriquollo and Parque Nacional Jaragua, which provide a natural sanctuary for iguanas. Additionally, the IIF and Grupo Jaragua have purchase important pieces of land in Pedernales to further iguana conservation. The total property under management for iguana conservation is now 29 hectares or 69.5 acres.
Ricord’s iguanas were thought to be extinct in Haiti until an IIF supported project confirmed the presence of a small remnant population in Anse-A-Pitres. This is the only known remaining population in the country of Haiti. Together, there are only 4 subpopulations on the entire island of Hispaniola. The range of this iguana has contracted significantly in recent times, and has not fared well in the face of feral predators and habitat degradation including conversion of their habitat for agriculture and pasture. They inhabit dry scrubland with sandy and earthen soils in which they excavate burrows for retreats. Adults are primarily terrestrial, often living in high densities, whereas juveniles tend to occupy arboreal retreats. The extent and impact of hunting and trapping of iguanas by local people is another threat that needs further investigation. What is clear is that the Ricord's iguana has disappeared from vast tracks of its former range that may signify a more specialized lifestyle and inability to adapt to disturbed areas than the Rhinoceros iguana of Hispaniola. The rate of decline is particularly disturbing.
For information on conservation, management, and how the IIF is working to save this species, please see the projects section.
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