Jamaican Iguana Release Feb 2008

February 2008 release of Jamaican Iguanas brings total to 100

Cyclura colleiOf the 15 iguanas released, six were “Judas Iguanas” equipped with radio-transmitters that biologists hope will lead them to other iguana populations. These are named after the Judas goat concept where female goats are tethered to attract (thereby betraying) the remaining male goats on Galápagos Islands so they can be shot in attempts to recover the habitat for giant tortoises. In Jamaica these iguanas are released in remote areas where there have been historical reports of iguanas but no recent observations. It is hoped that the Judas iguanas will lead biologists to other individuals or populations of iguanas, or to new nesting sites. This is a new technique that is being tested for the first time in 2008. Plans to double the headstart and release program are finally underway. Given the tremendous success of this effort, it was decided to increase the number of hatchlings collected annually from 20 to 40, and to expand the number of iguanas released annually to 40. We will move to a five-year schedule whereby 40 new iguanas are coming into the program while 40 are going out for release on an annual basis. Such a major expansion will require additional facilities at the Hope Zoo where the headstarting program is based. Fortunately thanks to an anonymous donation to the IIF, $10,000 USD is now available to build a new headstarting unit. Groundbreaking got underway in March 2008 with completion expected this summer.

Funding for the Jamaican Iguana Recovery Program in 2007 – 2008 is provided through core support from the IIF and a generous grant from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund.

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Dr. Byron Wilson (UWI) reflects with head-started release iguana “K”.