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Iguana Specialist Group
IUCN - the World Conservation Union
Species Survival Commission
Volume 6 * Number 2 * Winter 2003
IN THIS ISSUE
* Iguanas in the News ..................
* News 8 Comments ................ 3
* Taxon Reports ....................... 6
Cyclura collei ........................... 6
Cyclura nubila nubila............... 8
Cyclura pinguis........................ 9
* Recent Literature.................... 12
a ISG contact information ......... 12
Published by the
Zoological Society of San Diego
Applied Conservation Division
P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112
ft R V ^
Ipans twtbe News
Hunters flock to Puerto Rico's remote and rugged Mona Island
Associated Press - June 23, 2003
By Frank Griffiths
ISLA MONA, Puerto Rico. Turning eyes and shotguns toward a rustling
bush on this uninhabited Caribbean island, the hunters eagerly await the
day's prey. In a flash, a 4-foot (1.2-meter) iguana emerges.
"Darn iguanas!" growls the camouflaged Angel Luis Seda, lowering
his weapon in disappointment. "They sound like goats." Set in some of
the Caribbean's roughest waters, Isla Mona (Mona Island in English) offers
rugged adventure for those looking to hunt, explore caves adorned with
petroglyphs, snorkel a pristine coral reef, spot rare boobies, hunt for pirate
treasure, investigate a lighthouse designed by Eiffel. For four months of
the year, the seven by four mile (eleven by six kilometer) island between
Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic attracts hundreds of hunters
from the U.S. Caribbean territory and mainland. They can kill up to five
goats a day and any number of pigs, which are rarely sighted. In return,
they help protect the island's threatened rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura
"It's a win-win situation," said Robert Matos, director of natural
reserves for Puerto Rico's Natural Resources Department. Biologists
estimate the island is home to more than 2,000 iguanas, threatened by
pigs, goats, and feral cats brought by farmers in the 18th century. The
pigs devour iguana eggs. The cats prey on young lizards. And the goats
feast on plants the iguanas eat. In 1999, scientists began catching iguana
hatchlings and raising them until they're capable of protecting themselves.
About 40 adults have since been released, said biologist Alberto Alvarez,
who directs the project.
"This is hostile land," said Seda, one of 75 hunters who came
toward the end of the hunting season in March. It begins in December
with a month devoted to hunting with bows and arrows. Dubbed the
"Galapagos of the Caribbean" for its remoteness and wildlife, the island
boasts red-footed boobies, more than 50 species of spiders, endangered
hawksbill turtles, and falcons. Hunters come on a
three-hour boat ride made nauseating by choppy water
and strong currents to experience a mixture of heaven
and hell. Temperatures can soar to 110 degrees Fahren-
heit (43 degrees Celsius) in winter, two deadly types of
scorpions are indigenous, and dense thorn bushes make
Mona hard to navigate. A teenage boy scout died of
dehydration in 2001 after getting lost. The same year,
a hunter died after his friend mistakenly shot him.
Although Seda and companion Victor Padilla know the
island well, they carry a global positioning system and,
if separated, whistle out before shooting.
"It's better to scare the animal away than to get
shot," said Leoneides Morina, 45, a shirtless hunter
with hands bloody from skinning a goat. The island's
wild beauty makes the challenges worthwhile.
Bleached bluffs buttress coral reefs that are a paradise
for divers and snorkelers. About 200 limestone caves
await explorers, some with petroglyphs from Taino
Indians who lived here before Ponce de Leon and his
Spanish conquistadors arrived. The caves, some large
enough to hold a small cruise ship, once were used for
mining guano. Carts and rail tracks still litter some of
the larger ones, remnants of concessions granted to
companies from Spain, Germany, and Puerto Rico in
the late 19th century.
Isla Mona translates to "monkey island" in
English, but there never were any monkeys here. It was
named for a Taino chief called Amona. Bands of
pirates also stopped by, and legend has it that buried
treasures abound. The infamous Captain Kidd hid out
here in 1699 while England sent word it wanted him
executed. Kidd should have stayed. He left for New
York, where he was captured and shipped to England
for hanging. On the east coast, a cast iron lighthouse
in disrepair draws visitors because it was designed by
the company of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel
Tower fame, according to Ovidio Davila of Puerto
Rico's Culture Institute. The island was last inhabited
in the early 1940s when the Civilian Conservation
Corps sent hundreds of people to plant trees in a post-
Depression-era program to create jobs. Illegal Domini-
can migrants trying to reach mainland Puerto Rico
sometimes stop here when they encounter rough seas
or engine trouble. A graveyard of a dozen or so
mangled boats on the west end of the island bears
testimony to unsuccessful attempts.
Today, Isla Mona is a remote outpost, visited
by biologists, hunters, and tourists who must get
permits from the Department of Natural Resources.
The only accommodation is a $4-a-night campsite
with dinner, often a hearty goat stew cooked with
cilantro and served with rice and beans. Hunters ship
the rest of their booty to the main island for sale.
"You alleviate stress with nature," said Padilla, a
32-year-old auto parts store manager. "This is the life."
Two dozen endangered iguanas released to wild: feral
cats, loss of habitat threaten once-flourishing species
Associated Press - October 11, 2003
THE SETTLEMENT, British Virgin Islands. Scien-
tists have released 24 endangered Anegada rock iguanas
into the wild, the culmination of six years of work to
protect the rare reptile, scientists said. The iguanas,
once a common sight on the sparsely populated British
Caribbean island of Anegada, have fallen victim to a
Male Mona island iguana. Photo by
Glenn Gerber/ISG Photo Archive.
ISG Newsletter 6(2) - Winter 2003
growing population of feral cats, which eat young
iguanas after they hatch. Although there were once
thousands of the iguanas living in Anegada, a dry,
scrubby island of 15 square miles (39 square kilome-
ters), current estimates put the wild population at fewer
than 300. The Anegada rock iguana, or Cyclurapinguis,
is related to other rock iguanas that live throughout the
Caribbean island chain. The World Worldlife Fund
lists the iguana as an endangered species.
"This is a very special iguana," said Rick
Hudson, biologist with the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas.
"The Anegada iguana is the most primitive. All the
other rock iguanas evolved from this animal. In terms
of preserved evolutionary potential, this is the most
important one of the whole group."
In 1997, the territory's National Parks Trust
opened a facility for young iguanas where they could be
raised until they are big enough to fend off the cats.
Started with just three juvenile iguanas, the facility was
home to 90 animals before the release Wednesday and
Friday. The release was a source of pride for residents
of Anegada, who have waited six years to reap the
benefits of the facility, a complex of cages located
adjacent to the island's government outpost in its only
town, called The Settlement.
"When I was a girl, we used to see iguanas all
over," said Vanessa Walters, a writer and resident who
came to watch the release. "It's really great to see this
happening." The two dozen iguanas that were released
this week were between three and six years old, said
Kelly Bradley, a researcher at the Dallas Zoo in Texas.
They can grow to be a maximum six feet (two meters)
long and can live up to 80 years. Each animal was
surgically implanted with a radio transmitter, which
Bradley and other scientists will use to monitor their
movements. Next to cats, the iguanas' biggest obstacle
to survival is loss of habitat. Although relatively unde-
veloped, Anegada has lost portions of its untouched
interior to grazing livestock. The scientists and several
islanders released 12 of the iguanas Friday. One-by-
one, the animals were released from pillowcases used to
transport them from the facility. The other 12 had
been released Wednesday. While some bobbed their
heads up and down, others stood still, eyeing their new
homes. Gradually, the animals disappeared into the
... News & iComments.
ISG Mission Statement * The Iguana Specialist
Group has finalized and adopted a mission state-
ment thanks to the editorial efforts of members Allison
Alberts, Kelly Bradley, Karen Graham, Lee Pagni, and
the ISG Steering Committee.
The Iguana Specialist Group priorities
and facilitates conservation, science, and
awareness programs that help ensure the
survival of wild iguanas and their habitats.
Cuban Iguana PHVA * The Conservation Breeding
Specialist Group recently held a Population Habitat
and Viability Assessment workshop for the Cuban rock
iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila). The workshop was
hosted by the Havana Zoo in January of 2003 in
Cuba. ISG members Ivan Rehak and Tandora Grant
attended as did over twenty Cuban biologists and
reserve managers from areas throughout Cuba. The
Vortex population dynamics model was used to gener-
ate extinction risk assessments under current manage-
ment scenarios based upon information of the natural
history, threats, and ecology of Cuban iguana popula-
tions and comparable species. Participants drafted
detailed management and research recommendations
during the workshop. The final report is in the review
process and will be published soon.
Cuban iguana PHVA participants, Havana, Cuba.
E U U
ISG Newsletter 6(2) * Winter 2003
V volunteers needed on St. Lucia * The St.
Lucian iguana project was initiated in 2001 as a
partnership between the St. Lucia Forestry Depart-
ment and the UK-based Durrell Wildlife Conservation
Trust to investigate the status of the St. Lucian iguana
and implement recommendations for its conservation.
As a part of the St. Lucian iguana project's efforts to
conserve these impressive animals, we are focussing our
efforts on the only two communal nesting areas we
have found so far, both located on remote beaches. At
these sites we are attempting to develop various meth-
ods of estimating population size, as a way of monitor-
ing the success of our ongoing conservation efforts, as
well as assessing a number of threats facing the nests,
the mothers and their hatchlings.
This is labour-intensive work and we are
seeking the assistance of four volunteers to undertake a
large component of this vital, beach-based nest moni-
toring work over a period of 6-7 months in 2004,
starting at the end of January, finishing in early Au-
gust. Unfortunately, the project cannot afford to pay
salaries, but all travel and living expenses for four
volunteers will be covered.
Female St. Lucia iguana
from St. Louvet. Drawing by John Bendon.
The work will involve camping six days a week
at these beach sites. In the first phase, lasting roughly
three months, volunteers will patrol nest sites through
the day, counting sightings of nesting females and the
signs they leave indicating their presence. In the
second phase, of similar duration, nests will be fenced
to catch hatchlings as they emerge allowing us to count
and measure them, and make simple health checks,
before they are released.
Introduced (non-native) predators at nest sites
pose a serious threat to iguanas, their eggs and their
hatchlings: volunteers will also attempt to assess these
threats through direct observation and live trapping.
Trapped introduced predators will be euthanized.
Volunteers will also have the opportunity to
develop additional small projects of their own (as
examples, both beaches are also nested by sea turtles,
especially leatherbacks; both are used by a number of
endemic bird species; and there are issues of conserva-
tion concern arising from land use practices).
No prior experience is needed, but the work
will involve concentration and long hours and all
volunteers should be reasonably fit, healthy, and be
prepared to camp and prepared to handle iguanas
(training will be provided). Preference will be shown
to candidates with a track record of having worked on
projects in the tropics before, andlor with a back-
ground in the biological sciences, but anyone willing
and able to undertake this work may apply.
If you are interested, please email: Matt
Morton firstname.lastname@example.org and CC to
Karen Graham email@example.com for further details.
Iguana Book Published * The University of
California Press has released a new book entitled:
Iguanas: Biology and Conservation, edited by Allison
C. Alberts, Ronald L. Carter, William K. Hayes, and
Emilia P Martins. The book contains 20 chapters and
line drawings by John Bendon.
1. Iguana Research: Looking Back and Looking Ahead '
Gordon M. Burghardt.
2. The Evolution of Iguanas: An Overview Of Relationships
and a Checklist of Species '- Bradford D. Hollingsworth.
3. Genetic Contributions to Caribbean Iguana Conserva-
tion -- Catherine L. Malone and Scott K. Davis.
4. The Genetic Structure of the Turks and Caicos Rock
Iguana and its Implications for Species Conservation "
Mark E. Welch, Glenn P Gerber, and Scott K. Davis.
5. Tracing the Evolution of the Galapagos Iguanas: A
Molecular Approach " Kornelia Rassmann, Melanie
Markmann, Fritz Trillmich, and Diethard Tautz.
6. Sodium and Potassium Secretion by Iguana Salt Glands:
Acclimation or Adaptation? -- Lisa C. Hazard.
7. Behavior and Ecology of Rock Iguanas, I: Evidence for
an Appeasement Display " Emilia E Martins and Kathryn
ISG Newsletter 6(2) - Winter 2003
8. Behavior and Ecology of Rock Iguanas, II: Population
Differences - Ahrash N. Bissell and Emflia P Martins.
9. Sexually Dimorphic Antipredator Behavior in Juvenile
Green Iguanas: Kin Selection in the Form of Fraternal Care?
" Jesus A. Rivas and Luis E. Levfn.
10. Determinants of Lek Mating Success in Male GalApagos
Marine Iguanas: Behavior, Body Size, Condition, Ornamen-
tation, Ectoparasite Load, and Female Choice " William
K. Hayes, Ronald L. Carter, Martin Wikelski, and Jeffrey A.
11. Environmental Scaling of Body Size in Island Popula-
tions of GalApagos Marine Iguanas " Martin Wikelski and
12. Environmental Influences on Body Size of Two Species
of Herbivorous Desert Lizards " Christopher R. Tracy.
13. Factors Affecting Long-Term Growth of the Allen Cays
Rock Iguana in the Bahamas " John B. Iverson, Geoffrey
R. Smith, and Lynne Pieper.
14. Translocation Strategies
as a Conservation Tool for IGUANAS
West Indian Iguanas:
Evaluations and Recommen-
dations ' Charles R. Knapp
and Richard D. Hudson.
15. Testing the Utility of
Headstarting as a Conserva-
tion Strategy for West Indian
Iguanas - Allison C.
Alberts, Jeffrey M. Lemm,
Tandora D. Grant, and Lori
16. Survival and Reproduc-
tion of Repatriated Jamaican
Iguanas: Headstarting as a Viable Conservation Strategy -
Byron S. Wilson, Allison C. Alberts, Karen S. Graham,
Richard D. Hudson, Rhema Kerr Bjorkland, Delano S.
Lewis, Nancy E Lung, Richard Nelson, Nadin Thompson,
John L. Kunna, and Peter Vogel.
17. Conservation of an Endangered Bahamian Rock Iguana,
I: Population Assessments, Habitat Restoration, and
Behavioral Ecology " William K. Hayes, Ronald L. Carter,
Samuel Cyril, Jr., and Benjamin Thornton.
18. Conservation of an Endangered Bahamian Rock Iguana,
II: Morphological Variation and Conservation Priorities '
Ronald L. Carter and William K. Hayes.
19. The Role of Zoos in the Conservation of West Indian
Iguanas " Richard D. Hudson and Allison C. Alberts.
20. Ecotourism and its Potential Impacts on Iguana Conser-
vation in The Caribbean " Charles R. Knapp.
CN EST INDIAN IGUNA SPECT GROUP
F _ I
- � T-shirts destined by
RuPECIS O Iguana Specialist Group
- members are available in
all sizes for purchase. Printing of the shirts was the
generous donation of Alien Repashy of Southswell
ScreenArts. The t-shirt above left depicts John
Bendon's Andros iguana. The t-shirt above right was
designed by Jeff Lemm and features sparring male
Cuban iguanas. Both shirts are ash-gray in color and
cost $15 ($12 goes to support ISG activities). To place
an order, please send checks made out to the Interna-
tional Iguana Foundation to JeffLemm, San Diego
Zoo, PO BOX 120551, San Diego, CA 92112. There
are also a few shirts remaining from the annual ISG
meeting in the Turks and
Caicos. These shirts are
available for $20 in ash-
gray or natural. Please
email Glenn Gerber for
Mouse pads and posters benefitting the Grand
Cayman Blue Iguana Recovery Program are
available for purchase online.
ISG Newsletter 6(2) * Winter 2003
Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collet)
Jamaican Iguana Conservation Project
Field Report 2002
The project team was present in the Hellshire Hills
over 200 days during 2002, for 20-plus days per
month from February to March (pitfall trap survey),
June (nesting season) and September (hatching), and
ten days per month in January, May, and December.
Charcoal burning along the trail from Hill
Run towards the major iguana area has greatly dimin-
ished. However, the increased use of the trail to the
west is of considerable concern. Some burners have
encroached far south on occasions into natural forest
and possibly important iguana habitat. However, their
activities are outside the monitoring and control
capacity of the iguana conservation group; only proper
management of the Hellshire Hills as a protected area
will be able to address the problem of charcoal burning
in the long term.
Forty live traps
were open and baited
continuously during most
of the year. The traps were
closed on December 22
and remained so to the end
of the year because regular
control was no longer
possible due to the death
of Mrs. Duffus, the main
field worker's wife. A total
of 55 mongooses, 15 cats,
four dogs and 40 rats were
removed. The most
northern traps captured
the largest number of
mongooses, followed by
the most southern traps
(Figure 1). This suggests
that many of the captured
immigrants that traveled
along the trail from the north and, to a lesser degree,
from the south. Consequently, we are planning to
increase the number of traps at these entry points into
the major iguana area. Circumstantial evidence sug-
gests that our main bait, red herring, is not optimal to
capture feral cats. We will further examine the ques-
tion of optimal cat bait in experiments carried out by a
new postgraduate student, Marlon Osbourne. An
experiment using chicken eggs placed in artificial
ground nests demonstrated dramatically reduced egg
predation in areas where mongooses are controlled.
The pitfall trap survey was continued to monitor
possible positive population responses of rare species,
particularly among the ground-dwelling herpetofauna,
to the reduced density of mongooses.
As in previous years, nesting was observed at
three sites referred to as Lower (LNS), Upper (UNS)
and Secondary Nesting Sites (SNS). The project team
could ascertain a total of 12 nests: four at LNS, five at
UNS and three at SNS. At least another three females
inspected these sites and did some digging, but may
have laid elsewhere. Six of the nesting females carried
beads. Of these marked animals, five were born in the
wild and one was a repatriated headstarted iguana.
Figure 1. Captures of exotic predators in life traps: January - December 2002.
Points indicate trap positions, and stars iguana nesting sites.
ISG Newsletter 6(2) - Winter 2003
Three females observed in 2001 were not recorded in
the present year. This was similar to 2001 with four
females not recorded that nested in 2000. However,
two of these females reappeared and nested at the
known sites in 2002. Nesting occurred remarkably
late, lasting from June 17 to 30, with a majority of
eight (out of twelve) nests from June 20 - 26. In
comparison, nesting lasted from June 9 - 23 in 2000,
and June 4 - 20 in 2001. Extended periods of heavy
rain in late May and early June may have contributed
towards the late start in the present.
Expecting similar dates for nesting as in the
previous two years, an attempt was made to collect
blood samples from spent females and other iguanas
from June 11 to 16. However, oviposition had not yet
started during this period. Two adult males, both
repatriated headstarted animals, and a juvenile iguana
could be captured, sampled, and measured.
Table 3 shows the repatriated headstarted
iguanas that could be recorded during 2002. Overall,
the survival of 10 of the 39 animals released between
1996 and 2001 was confirmed. It was the first record
of survival for five of the ten animals. Most remark-
ably, the female with PIT 9B55 was recorded the first
time since her release in 1997, and the male 9404 since
his release in 1999. The male 146D was re-recorded
the first time in over two years. These figures suggest
that survivorship estimates based on current recaptures
are conservative. Male C8AC had migrated from the
release site in the middle of the Hellshire Hills to the
periphery at Hill Run where he was observed by
charcoal burner. We recaptured the animal with a live
trap and re-released it at the initial location.
Hatching was observed from September 6 to
21. Unusually heavy rain fell during this period lasting
for nearly a week. At total of 80 hatchlings from nine
clutches were intercepted, measured, sexed, and PIT
tagged. Two hatchlings were found dead in the field.
From most clutches, a male and a female were brought
to the Hope Zoo. Overall, the Zoo received 19
hatchlings of which three died within the first days.
Zoo personnel suspected cool and rainy weather to
have contributed to these deaths. All other animals
were released where they had hatched.
At the Hope Zoo, six male and five female
headstarted iguanas (hatch years 1991-1996) were
health-screened in May/June in preparation for their
repatriation in the Hellshire Hills. However, definitive
results from blood sample analyses were not available
early enough for a release in 2002.
The Portland Bight Protected Area, which
includes the Hellshire Hills, is still awaiting active
management for conservation. Two organizations are
competing to obtain management responsibility from
the relevant governmental conservation agency. The
Jamaican Iguana Research and Conservation Group
has collaborated with both organizations and given
advice on how to integrate iguana conservation into
the management plans. The competition between the
two organizations has created an unfortunate delay in
the establishment of effective forest conservation. On
the other hand, it is encouraging that both organiza-
tions appear committed to conserve the iguanas and
the remaining natural dry forest of the Hellshire Hills.
Also, both groups have endorsed the concept of estab-
lishing a wildlife sanctuary on Great Goat Island, that
would include the removal of exotic species and the
repopulation of the island with iguanas.
Peter Vogel, John Kunna, Marlon Osbourne,
and Byron Wilson
I.D. No. Hatch Sex Release Most Minimum Remarks
Year Date Recent survival
0A39 1991 Male 04/01/96 06/14/02 2265
9B55 1991 Female 06/01/97 08/16/02 1902 First record since release
146D 1991 Male 06/24/97 10/31/02 1955 First record in over 2 years
ABD4 1991 Male 02/14/98 07/01/02 1598
9404 1993 Male 11/19199 04/23/02 886 First record since release
E854 1993 Female 12/01/99 06/24/02 936 Nested in 2001 and 2002
E2EB 1993 Male 02/16/01 04/03/02 411
C8AC 1993 Male 02/16/01 01/22/02 340 First record since release
C8F2 1994 Female 02/20/01 08/12/02 538 First record since release
010A 1993 Male 02/20/01 03/31/02 404 First record since release
Table 3. Records during 2002 of repatriated headstarted iguanas
University of West Indies,
ISG Newsletter 6(2) * Winter 2003
Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila)
Morphometric and Abundance Data for the Cuban
Iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila) on the Cays North of
Carahata, Villa Clara.
Translated/edited jfom Spanish by Jean-Pierre Montag.,
and ISG newsletter edition (San Diego Zoo).
Here I describe the morphology and abundance of tl
Cuban iguana inhabiting the group of cays that forrr
part of the Sabana-Camagtiey archipelago, north of
the town of Carahata, in Villa Clara province.
Three of the largest cays, Verde, Obispo and
Sotavento (61, 1458, and 1832 hectares respec-
tively), are nearly 100% covered by mangrove
forest, predominantly red mangrove (Rhizophora
mangle). These cays have small strips of land,
between two and five ha, with sandy substrate
and typical coastal vegetation. It is in these small
sandy strips where the iguanas and their burrows
are predominantly found.
The morphological measurements of 19
adult males and 11 adult females from Cayo del
Obispo were taken during March of 1999.
Following Perera (1984), SVL, tail length, femur
length, and head width were measured with
calipers. Density (iguanas/hectare) in sandy
habitat was estimated by indirect burrow counts,
according to the formula:
D = Dx Ux0.5
Where: D = Density of iguanas/ha
DR = Density of burrows/ha
U = Percent utilization of burrows
0.5 = Correction factor, since adult
iguanas use two burrows on average
To estimate iguana density, burrows were
counted twice per year during 1998, 1999 and 2000
before and after the reproductive season. The density
of burrows can be estimated by sample plots or
transects (Berovides et al, 2001). In this work we usi
the plot method, with dimensions between 0.45 to
1.00 ha, depending on the size of the sandy strip.
Within each plot all the burrows were logged and
classified as active (in use) or abandoned.
Table 1 presents morphometric data for Cay(
del Obispo. These values were slightly lower than th
ones recorded in southern populations on Cayo Farit
by Perera (1984), for Cayo Largo by Gonzalez et al
(2001), and for Cayo San Felipe by Berovides et al
(2001). Differences between northern and southern
populations may represent natural variation within the
species across its geographic range.
Stability in iguana abundance over three years
is evident from Table 2; within each cay, densities were
maintained with little variation during the three years
of study. Differences observed between the cays
corroborate the subjective estimates of fishermen who
claim that Obispo has abundant iguanas, while
Sotavento has few. Similar and comparably stable
Males (N = 10)
Females (N = 11)
Variables mean � S.D. mean � S.D.
Snout-vent length 302.40 � 48.01 258.63 � 40.58
Tail length 359.60 � 109.69 310.00 � 92.84
Femur length 50.00 4.08 45.27 � 6.15
Head width 37.20 � 4.56 33.27 � 4.4
Table 1. Morphometric data (mm) fr the Cuban iguana on Obispo Cay,
Cays 1998 1999 2000
Obispo 22.5 25.2 24.9
Verde 18.2 17.2 10.5
Sotavento 14.2 NE NE
Table2. Mean densities (ignanasha) fr the Cuban iguana on three cays of the
Sabana-Camagiiey archipelago, over three years. Mean values based on two
counts per year. NE = Not evaluated
Entrance height (cm) Entrance width (cm)
Cays N mean S.D. mean � S.D.
Obispo 30 7.62 �1.61 13.33 �4.02
Verde Zone A 30 6.05 �2.99 14.43 � 5.93
Verde Zone B 28 5.89 �2.28 14.85 � 5.14
Table 3. Dimensions ofsand burrows excavated by the Cuban iguana on two cays
in the Sabana-Camagiiey archipelago.
density values were recorded by Berovides et al (2001)
for iguanas of the San Felipe Cays; this is the expected
result from a K selected species such as the Cuban
iguana. Although these estimates are indirect, a few
direct counts of iguanas give similar results.
y Mean and variance of burrow dimensions are
presented in Table 3. Compared with those recorded
ed for iguanas of San Felipe (mean height 8.9 - 9.6 cm;
mean width 19.5 - 22.8 cm), these values are below
average. If we assume that the size of the burrow
reflects the size of the animal (Cubillas and Berovides,
1991), this would be the expected result, because the
S average size of iguanas in Cayo del Obispo was less
e than that of the San Felipe Cays. This indicates that
:o the recorded small size is not an artifact of sampling,
and that this effect extends to other cays (the burrows
ISG Newsletter 6(2) - Winter 2003
were also small in Cayo Verde, where no evidence of
microgeographic differentiation was demonstrated).
The percentage use (active burrows) we re-
corded (69.3%) also seems to be a stable between
iguana populations (perhaps a reflection of stable
densities). Berovides et al (2001) recorded percent
usage values of 68.0% for the cays of San Felipe and
69.2% for Cruz del Padre Cay, north of Matanzas.
Berovides, V., et al. 2001. Estudio para el uso
sostenible de species de la Fauna Cubana. Informe
Final. Fac. Biologia, Universidad Habana.
Cubillas, S.Y. and V. Berovides. 1991. Caracteristicas
de los refugios de la iguana de Cuba, Cyclura nubila.
Gonzalez, A., V. Berovides, and MA. Castafieira.
2001. Aspectos de morfometria, abundancia, y
alimentaci6n de la iguana Cubana. Biologia 15:98-
Perera, A. 1984. Aspectos de la ecomorfologia de
Cyclura nubila (Sauria: Iguanidae). Cienc. Biol. 11:
( Vicente Berovides Alvarez, Mario Morales Diaz,
and Juan Castillo P&rez
University of Havana (Berovides) and
Ministry of Agriculture (Morales and P&rez)
Anegada iguana (Cyclura pinguis)
Population Assessment 2003
The Iguana Specialist Group conducted a population
assessment of Cyclura pinguis (Stout Iguana) on
Anegada Island, British Virgin Islands between June
14th and June 29th. The International Iguana Foun-
dation (IIF), participating institutions, and private
contributions by John Binns, Joe Burgess, and George
Waters, funded the survey. Members of the survey
team were: Dr. Glenn Gerber (San Diego Zoo/ISG),
Kelly Bradley (Dallas Zoo/ISG), John Binns (Interna-
tional Reptile Conservation Foundation /ISG/Interna-
tional Iguana Society (IIS)), Roberto Maria (ZooDom/
ISG), Tarren Wagener (Ft. Worth Zoo), Joe Burgess
(ISG/IIS), George Waters (IIS), and Lee Pagni (San
Diego Zoo/ISG). Lee Vanterpool (National Parks
Trust, BVI/Head Headstarting Keeper) also assisted in
the survey. Sallie Davis, a member of an archeological
team conducting research on the east end of the island,
assisted the team during one of the survey days.
Due to numerous travel delays, the survey team
members missed the last flight to Anegada (scheduled
flights are every other day) forcing a layover in Tortola.
At midday on June 15th, the team caught the local ferry
to Anegada. In retrospect, the ferry was a blessing
given the large collection of equipment, baggage, and
supplies that would have been expensive and difficult
to transport in the small plane to Anegada.
After arriving and settling in our temporary
quarters, the team assembled to discuss strategy for the
survey task that lay ahead. Anegada is approximately
161 m long and 2-3.5 km wide (about 39km2).
Though not a large island, it presented a significant
challenge to the small team's ability to conduct a
complete survey in the limited amount of time avail-
able. Glenn's strategy focused on the western half of
the island from Loblolly in the north, to the Settlement
in the south. This included Low Cay, Middle Cay, the
peninsula east of Middle Cay, and Windberg Cay in
the central ponds. Any remaining time would be used
to survey the area between the ponds and southern
developed coast, and areas east of the Settlement.
Given our time constraints, Glenn decided to use data
from previous east end surveys conducted by teams led
by himself and John Binns in 2001 to round out the
Cuban iguana at Guantanamo Bay. Photo by John Phillips.
ISG Newsletter 6(2) * Winter 2003
The 2003 C. pinguis population survey team. Back row:
George Waters, Glenn Gerber, and John Binns. Front row:
Roberto Maria, Kelly Bradley, Tarren Wagener, and Joe
Burgess. Lee Pagni not shown. Photo by Tarren Wagener.
Lee Pagni pitched in periodically to assist in the
survey efforts but his primary agenda involved con-
ducting interviews with the local residents ofAnegada
to assist in formulating a public awareness and school
educational program focusing on iguanas.
With game plan in hand, team members began
the huge task of surveying the island with energy and
enthusiasm, which they maintained throughout. Each
morning, the team assembled and headed out to their
designated transect areas, armed with GPS, notebooks,
binoculars, transceivers, and survey material, to battle
dense bush and cacti in 100+ degree heat or an occa-
sional rain squall. Around noon each day, the team
reassembled for lunch and a discussion of sightings or
the lack of them. The afternoon shift began after a
short rest and typically ended about 7 PM when the
weary team headed back to quarters to prepare the
In general, the status of C pinguis remains
critical and the species appears to be in continued
decline. The core iguana areas, Bone and Windlass
Bight, now contain bulldozed access cuts, which were
determined to have destroyed a number of known
iguana burrows. Citron Bush, the site of Michael
Carey's research in 1968, which described healthy
populations of C pinguis, was heavily disturbed by
feral cattle and goats and devoid of any trace of igua-
nas. Overall, both sightings and signs of C. pinguis
were low. This was especially disappointing to those
team members who had never seen these magnificent
animals, having traveled so far and worked so hard
without catching more than a fleeting glance of a
One of thefew photographs of Cyclura pinguis taken
during the survey. Photo by Joe Burgess.
International Reptile Conservation Foundation
BIGHT B BlGHT 1
JOHN BINNS. ET AL.
GENERAL AREA OF SURVEY
GROSS APPROXIMATION OF C. PINGUIW SURVEY
GLENN GERBER, 7E AL, -
ISG Newsletter 6(2) - Winter 2003
Anegada Iguanas Released
The conservation and recovery program for the
Anegada iguana, Cyclura pinguis, reached a milestone
in October 2003 when the first group of 24
headstarted iguanas was released into their native
habitat on Anegada. These represent the first releases
since the headstarting program got underway in 1997.
Of significance is that the program has finally come
full-circle in that two of the first three iguanas collected
as hatchlings for headstart were released six years later.
Animals for release were selected based primarily on
size, and are believed to be large enough to survive cat
predation in the wild. Released iguanas had an even
sex ratio and were equally divided between two size
classes, averaging 1,005 g and 1,345 g, respectively
(total range: 800-2000 g). The iguanas were released
into two very distinct habitat types: twelve (six from
each size class and sex) were released in the sandy scrub
of Bones Bight, while the other twelve were released in
the interior broken limestone woodland of Middle
Cay. Both release sites are within the core iguana area
and contain some of the best habitat remaining
These iguanas had previously under-
gone rigorous pre-release health assessments
in April 2003 by a veterinary team from the
IGU members and Anegada residents collaborated in the
release of headstarted iguanas. Photos by Rick Hudson.
Fort Worth Zoo, with funding from the Morris Animal
Foundation. The team then returned in September to
surgically implant temperature-sensitive radio trans-
mitters in all 24 iguanas selected for release. The
iguana's locations and behaviors were recorded daily by
direct observation for the first 24 days after the initial
release by Kelly Bradley (Dallas Zoo) and Jeff Lemm
(San Diego Zoo). Kelly will continue to periodically
monitor their survival, growth, and general health over
the next two years. In addition, a remote data-logging
telemetry station was installed to continuously record
body temperatures of the released animals to determine
thermoregulatory patterns. With the exception of two
losses, the iguanas appear to be settling in well and
adapting to life in the wild. During Kelly's second visit
she managed to recapture the remaining iguanas for
data collection and visual inspections. All the iguanas
from the Middle Cay site exhibited a significant weight
gain (average 136 g); with the exception of four indi-
viduals, the animals at Bones Bight had also gained
weight (average 46 g).
The releases were an event that enjoyed popu-
lar support by a host of local observers, staff, and
volunteer participants. In fact, all of the local attend-
ees, including the Anegada District Officer, actually
participated by personally releasing iguanas. On hand
were Joseph Smith
Smith and Clinton
Trust), Lucia Frances
and Shirley Walters
(both local resi-
wealth Office), Dick Beales (UK Dept. of International
Development), Malcolm Kirk (BVI Governor's Office),
Lee Pagni (San Diego Zoo), Joe Wasilewski (Intl.
Iguana Society) and Rick Hudson (Fort Worth Zoo).
The event was covered locally in the BVI newspapers;
international coverage included CNN.com and Associ-
This project is funded through a grant from
the International Iguana Foundation (IIF).
Fort Worth Zoo
ISG Newsletter 6(2) * Winter 2003
Alberts, A.C., RL. Carter, WK. Hayes, and E.E Martins.
2004. Iguanas: Biology and Conservation. University of
California Press, Berkeley. 341 pp.
Alberts, A.C., and TD. Grant. 2003. Involving the public
in endangered species recovery through volunteer field
research: a test case with Cuban iguanas. Applied Environ-
mental Education and Communication 2:147-151.
Breuil, M. 2002. Histoire Naturelle des Amphibiens et
Reptiles Terrestres de LArchipel Guadeloup6en.
Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthdlemy. Patrimoines
Naturels. Vol. 54, 339 pp.
Courchamp, E, J.-L. Chapuis, and M. Pascal. 2003.
Mammal invaders on islands: impact, control and control
impact. Biological Reviews 78:347-383.
Gerber, G.E, T.D. Grant, A.C. Alberts, and M.A. Hostetter.
2002. Cyclura nubila nubila (Cuban iguana) carrion
feeding. Herpetological Review 33(2):133-134.
Gutman, A.J., and J. Binns. 2002. Grand Cayman blues:
the struggle to preserve Cyclura nubila lewisi. Reptiles
Hines, K.N., J.B. Iverson, and J.M. Valiulis. 2002. Cyclura
cychlura inornata (Allen Cays rock iguana) bird predation.
Herpetological Review 33(4):306.
Hodge, K.V.D., E.J. Censky, and R. Powell. 2003. The
Reptiles and Amphibians of Anguilla, British West Indies.
The Anguilla National Trust. 72 pp.
Knapp, C.R, and C.L. Malone. 2003. Patterns of
reproductive success and genetic variability in a translocated
iguana population. Herpetologica 59(2):195-202.
Lacy, KIE., and E.E Martins. 2003. The effect ofanthro-
pogenic habitat usage on the social behaviour of a vulner-
able species, Cyclura nubila. Animal Conservation 6:3-9.
Lazell, J. 2002. Restoring vertebrate animals in the British
Virgin Islands. Ecological Restoration 20(3):179-185.
Malone, C.L., C.R. Knapp, J.E Taylor, and S.K. Davis.
2003. Genetic consequences of Pleistocene fragmentation:
isolation, drift, and loss of diversity in rock iguanas (Cy-
clura). Conservation Genetics 4:1-15.
ISG Contact Information
Allison Alberts, Co-Chair
Zoological Society of San Diego
Fredric Burton, Deputy Chair
National Trust for the Cayman Islands
Richard Hudson, Co-Chair
Fort Worth Zoo
Miguel Garcia, Deputy Chair
Department of Natural and Environmental
Resources, Puerto Rico
The World Conservation Union
SPECIES SURVIVAL COMMISSION
ISG Newsletter 6(2) - Winter 2003