- The Allen Cays Rock Iguana was believed extinct in the early 1900s due to hunting by local fisherman. The populations on the two cays where they occur naturally totaled only about 300 iguanas in early 1980s, but has rebounded to over 1,000 by 2016.
- To decrease the risk of species loss, two translocated populations were established on islands owned by The Bahamas and are now flourishing.
- The cays with naturally occurring populations are visited intensively by tourists for the purpose of feeding the iguanas; one island receives 150 or more people each day. The long-term physiological and behavioral impacts of this supplemental feeding are unclear, but worrisome and under investigation.
- This intensity of visitation also brings the danger of the accidental introduction of feral mammals, such as rodents, dogs, or cats, which could be catastrophic for these small island populations. These iguanas have been under continuous study since 1980 by IIF Board Member Dr. John Iverson.
IIF Grants Received
Emergency Relocation of Allen Cays Iguanas (Cyclura cychlura inornata) for Mouse Eradication
John B. Iverson
This grant will allow for the emergency removal of the remaining iguanas on Allen Cay prior to a planned mouse eradication. The iguanas on Allen’s Cay are endemic to three small islands with a total population of approximately 1000. Introduction of house mice on one of the islands is now threatening the population by attracting non-native barn owls. Additionally, rodenticide to eradicate the mouse population is potentially toxic to the iguanas. An attempt was made to relocate the iguanas in May and August of 2011 but was cut short by Hurricane Irene. This funding will allow the emergency relocation to be completed. After mouse eradication the iguanas will be returned to their habitat, with modifications having been made to improve nesting success.
Physiological Impacts of Tourism and Food Supplementation on Endangered Bahamian Iguanas
An increasingly popular tourism activity in The Bahamas includes feeding the endangered iguanas inhabiting the Exuma Islands. Initial observations suggest that food provisioning activities can alter normal dietary patterns, behavior, growth, and health of impacted animals. Despite these potentially threatening precursors, insufficient data have prevented the formation of informed management recommendations. This project will assess the impacts of tourist visitation and food supplementation on endangered Exuma Island Iguanas by investigating the physiological parameters and behaviors of iguanas living under different degrees of visitation pressure.