A team from Sint Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) has laid the groundwork for a Caribbean conservation plan for the Lesser Antillean iguana during a workshop in Anguilla last week. This native iguana is endangered and only to be found in Statia, Anguilla, St Barths, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica. It has already become extinct on Sint Maarten, where the Green iguana has taken over and is now becoming a pest.
Representatives of the islands with remaining Lesser Antillean Iguanas shared their ideas during the workshop about how to build a bright future for their native iguana. All islands share the main threats to their native iguana, such as habitat loss due to roaming goats, predation by wild cats and rats, car accidents, poaching and the arrival of the invasive green iguana. Apart from that, the present Iguana population in Statia is possibly not viable, because they are divided over little hotspots with little contact between each other and little genetic exchange. Therefore STENAPA works on improving connectivity, putting in place checks in the harbor of incoming containers, and decreasing the roaming goats and wild cats.
In Anguilla the situation with the iguana on the mainland has become so critical that the Anguilla National Trust translocates the last individuals to a small uninhabited island nearby, Prickley Pear. During one of the night patrols in Anguilla last week STENAPA’s National Parks Ranger Rupnor Redan found one of the last remaining native iguanas. It has been put in quarantine and will be send to Prickely Pear after genetic testing.
Besides Redan, the STENAPA team was further represented by Director Clarisse Buma, Tim van Wagensveld (RAVON) and Sandra Bijhold (Rotterdam Zoo). Buma: “This workshop was very inspiring. We want to increase the corporation with especially Anguilla and St Barths. We can learn from each other. Anguilla is interested to have an exchange with our ranger and do night patrolls with them. And STENAPA can learn from St Barths, where they made progress in the field of checking sea containers for invasive species. I am looking forward to bring our recovery plan a step further”.
The development of the recovery plan is supported by the EU Best 2.0 programme for overseas territories of European countries.
Photo: STENAPA ranger Rupnor Redan caught an invasive green iguana on Anguilla with colleagues from Blijdorp Zoo (Rotterdam), Les Fruits de Mer (Sint Maarten) and Anguilla National Trust.