Cayman Island Blue Iguana
Location: island of Grand Cayman in the Carribean
Endemic to Grand Cayman, this magnificently striking blue iguana is one of the most endangered lizards on Earth. Blue iguanas normally possess a blue-grey complexion when resting but are better known for the stunning azure blue they turn during the breeding season or when excited. Hatchlings are vulnerable to native snakes and have a high mortality rate.
Once abundant, the Cayman Island blue iguana has been quietly heading for extinction in the wild since the colonization of the West Indian islands. Like other iguana species this beautiful creature is subject to many human-related threats, including: destruction of habitats for farming, residential and commercial developments; road casualties; trapping or shooting by farmers, who perceive iguanas as a threat to their crops; and predation by wild and domestic cats and dogs. Large scale deforestation and road construction has also increased enormously in the eastern districts over the last decade, and is only expected to accelerate.
The Cayman Island blue iguana is fully protected under local legislation, and kept out of international trade by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The National Trust for the Cayman Islands has established an integrated conservation program incorporating research, habitat protection, captive breeding, re-introduction/restocking, and conservation education. It seems that the future of wild blue iguanas must rest on managed populations in protected areas, but suitable land is scarce on Grand Cayman. Thus, despite encouraging conservation efforts, more protected land must be obtained if there is any hope of securing its future in the wild.
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