Cyclura collei

Rock Iguana


Range: Jamaica
Population: 200 – 300
Size: Up to 54 cm and 6 kg (21 in and 13 lbs)
Threats: Introduced mammal predators, habitat destruction, and illegal forest use.

Species information

  • Thought extinct for nearly half a century, the Jamaican Iguana was rediscovered in the remote Hellshire Hills in 1990 and became the subject of an intensive effort to recover the species. Employing a combination of nest protection, predator control and headstart/release.
  • The Jamaican Iguana survives only in the Hellshire Hills, a rugged limestone area with suitable dry forest habitat. Although suitable vegetation still exists, extensive  surveying has not located iguanas far from the central core protected zone. 
  • They are threatened by invasive predators, such as mongooses, cats, stray dogs, Mongooses are very common throughout the Hellshire Hills and observations show they prey on juveniles and eggs.
  • The Hellshire Hills is currently part of the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA). Declared in 1999, the PBPA is Jamaica’s largest protected area and includes both of the Goat Islands.
  • Through the headstart facility at the Hope Zoo Kingston to date over 468 Jamaican Iguanas have been released into the wild!
  • The Jamaican Iguana Recovery Program is widely recognized as one of the world’s most remarkable conservation success stories.

Jamaican Rock Iguana

IIF Grants Received

2019 Grant $12,000

Enhancing the Hope Zoo Headstart Program for the Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei)


Hope Zoo



2011 Grant $8,510

Increasing the Effectiveness and Output of Two Cyclura Headstart Programs Through Increased Oversight, (Cyclura collei and Cyclura pinguis)

Michael Fouraker and Kelly Bradley


The IIF has provided funding for headstart programs for the Jamaican (C. collei) and the Anegada Iguana (C. pinguis) since 2003. Headstarting hatchling iguanas provides them with protected growth time until they are large enough to avoid predation whereby they have a higher rate of survival following release. Increased oversight will address some of the lingering issues that have reduced the effectiveness of these program historically. It is the goal of this grant to increase the number of animals available for release by 30-50% by shortening their time in captivity and improving their growth rates and survival.

2007 Grant $20,000

Core Support for the Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) Recovery Program

Byron Wilson


2006 Grant $2,000

Production of the Jamaican iguana Species Recovery Plan Document

Byron Wilson


2005 Grant $9,000

Jamaica Iguana Recovery Program

Byron Wilson


Provides funding to continue this long-running field program and ensures that the primary field biologist, Rick Van Veen, remains on salary and working in Hellshire. Rick’s ongoing conservation activities include predator control, protection of nesting sites, research on ecology and habitat requirements of the iguana, monitoring released iguanas, (16 in 2005) and radio-tracking hatchling iguanas.

2004 Grant $11,300

Conservation of the Critically Endangered Jamaican Iguana, Cyclura collei

Peter Vogel and Byron Wilson


2003 Grant $15,000

Jamaican Iguana Conservation and Recovery Program

Peter Vogel


Funding for this ongoing field program will provide annual operating costs for the recovery efforts including protection of nest sites, monitoring of nesting females, collection of hatchlings for headstarting, and continued surveys and monitoring of the Hellshire Hills. These funds were held over from 2002.

2002 Grant $15,000 + $6,500

Conservation of the Jamaican iguana

Peter Vogel and Byron Wilson

$15,000 + $6,500

A $15,000 IIF grant was awarded to Peter Vogel and the Jamaican Iguana Conservation and Research Group for yearly operating expenses for the ongoing field research and recovery program. Previously in 2002 the IIF had awarded $6,500 to Byron Wilson of the Jamaican Iguana Conservation and Research Group to continue his ongoing assessment, now in its 5th year, of the mongoose removal program in the Hellshire Hills.

The Jamaican Rock Iguana program has been funded in part by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. For information on the grievance mechanism related to our CEPF funded project, please click here.

More About Jamaican Iguana Conservation

The iguana rangers describe how Jamaican Rock Iguanas are ecosystem engineers and a vital part of the habitat.

Meet the people on the front line of iguana conservation in Jamaica!

Health screening of Jamaican Iguanas leaving the facility at the Hope Zoo in September 2019.