- The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, while still endangered, is an ongoing conservation success story. This powder-blue species once numbered only 10–25 animals left in the wild. And was considered functionally extinct in 2002. Thanks to an ambitious and concerted conservation program the wild iguana population of Grand Cayman is now rebounding, with evidence that natural breeding is occurring.
- The species is threatened by and had been in decline for decades due to the impacts of feral predators (cats and dogs), domestic livestock, habitat disturbance and destruction, trapping and shooting by farmers, road collisions, and collection for the pet trade.
- A handful of animals were held by U.S. zoos and in a small breeding and head start facility located in the island’s Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.
- To save the iguana, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands partnered with government colleagues, U.S. zoos, and donors (such as the IIF) to form the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP) and a Species Recovery Plan was developed.
- The National Trust created the Salina Reserve and Collier’s Wilderness Reserve protected areas in the island’s eastern end. Head started iguanas have been released to these two areas as well in the QEII Botanic Park. To encourage site fidelity, iguanas are released in specially constructed wooden hide boxes that also provides a measure of safety against feral dog and cat attacks. In July 2018, the 1,000th Grand Cayman Blue Iguana named “Renegade” was released into the wild, in the Collier’s Wilderness Reserve.
- Ongoing conservation needs for the iguana include increased research to manage the species remaining genetic diversity, continuous education and outreach efforts to ameliorate ongoing threats to the species such as road mortality, and the possibility of harmful impacts by the invasive Common Green Iguana (Iguana iguana).
Grand Cayman Blue Iguana
IIF Grants Received
Restoration of a Second Subpopulation of Wild Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas, Phase 2
This grant provides support for the December 2005 release of an additional 70 two-year old iguanas that will significantly expand the population established in the Salina Reserve in 2004–05. The 2005 release will bring this new wild subpopulation half-way to its target size of 200 individuals from 20 founder lines. Funds will be used to purchase radio transmitters, pay for helicopter rental to transport artificial iguana burrows, and support volunteer field workers.
Establishing a Second Sub-population of Released Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas, Cyclura lewisi
Expansion of In Situ Captive Facility for Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, and Start-up Funds for Local Revenue Measures to Staff the Facility Sustainably
Funding will help develop a web-based sustainable revenue stream to support the annual salary for the iguana facility manager. The IIF funded the first year salary for this position.
Enhancing In Situ Captive Management for the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana
This IIF grant was awarded to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands as partial salary for an iguana facility manager. This grant can expand to $15,000 with in-country matching funds.