Iguana Specialist Group newsletter (ISG newsletter)
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Iguana Specialist Group

Ne ws/etter

IUCN - the World Conservation Union
Species Survival Commission

Volume 5 * Number 1 * Spring 2002


* News & Comments .................. 1
* Taxon Reports ....................... 3
Cyclura collei ........................... 3
Cyclura carinata carinata ............ 4
Cyclura cychlura figginsi ............ 6
Cyclura carinata bartschi ............ 9
Cyclura nubila nubila .............. 11
* Recent Literature ................. 15
* ISG contact information .......... 16

ISG Newsletter
Published by the
Zoological Society of San Diego
Applied Conservation Division
P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112

Tandora Grant
Allison Alberts

News & Comments

International Iguana Foundation Grants * The International Iguana
Foundation (IIF) held their annual Board meeting in San Diego on 27
April 2002. Grants were awarded for the following projects:

Enhancing in-situ captive management for the Grand Cayman Blue iguana.
$10,000 awarded to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands as partial
salary for an iguana facility manager. This grant can expand to $15,000
with in-country matching funds.

Conservation of the Jamaican iguana. $15,000 awarded to Peter Vogel and
the Jamaican Iguana Conservation and Research Group for yearly operating
expenses for the ongoing field research and recovery program.

Anegada iguana recovery program. $15,000 was earmarked to promote the
recovery effort for this critically endangered iguana. The specific details of
how these funds will be allocated are still being determined.

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 fifth year, of the mongoose removal pro-
gram in the Hellshire Hills. A $1,500 grant was given to Catherine Malone
to continue her iguana survey work in St. Lucia in collaboration with the
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. This fieldwork was also supported by
grants from the Miami Metro and Columbus Zoos.
The IIF is also pleased to announce that they are the recipient of a
grant from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund for $8,100 for Expan-
sion of in-situ captive breeding for the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. These
funds are earmarked for materials needed to construct larger breeding
enclosures at the Trust's iguana management facility in the Queen Elizabeth
II Botanic Park. This grant brings the total to $18,100 (potentially
$23,100) that has been raised through the IIF in support of the Grand

Cayman Iguana Species Recovery Plan drafted in
November 2001. A third grant, seeking $21,200, was
also submitted to the AZA Conservation Endowment
Fund (CEF) for the proposal "Flagship Species Cam-
paign to save the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana," by
Allison Alberts, Rick Hudson, and Fred Burton. These
actions illustrate the momentum that a well written
and ratified Species Recovery Plan can exert toward the
mobilization of resources from a diverse array of
funding agencies and sectors.
Finally a $2,400 grant was awarded to the ISG
by the Chicago Zoological Society's Chicago Board of
Trade Endangered Species Fund to support radio-
tracking projects on four species of West Indian igua-
nas. These funds are designated to purchase radio-
transmitters for the programs on Grand Cayman,
Mona Island, Andros Island, and Anegada, BVI. This
grant will be matched by the IIF to provide a total of
$4,800 to be divided among these projects.

Rick Hudson, IIF Program Officer
Fort Worth Zoo

U H s

M ona Island Headstart Releases � Five (3.2)
30-month old Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri were
released by staff from the Departamento de Recursos
Naturales y Ambientales de Puerto Rico (PRDNER)
on 23 April near Punta Arenas, Isla Mona, with
surgically implanted AVM G31V radiotransmitters
coupled to K7 3.6v batteries.
This is the first release of headstarted Mona
Island iguanas, an initiative led by the PRDNER
and the Toledo Zoological Gardens. The iguanas
were released near the nesting site from which they
were collected in 1999. This is the first release of a
group of 45 headstarted Mona Island iguanas, and is
designed to test the size at which Cyclura c. stejnegeri
are immune from feral cat predation and to deter-
mine dispersal distances and patterns. This initiative
is led by the PRDNER and the Toledo Zoological
On Isla Mona, pre-release medical evalua-
tions were performed by the Toledo Zoo veterinary
staff on 20 animals. Animals were physically exam-

ined, weighed, measured, and had a fecal parasite
check. Many had oxyurids; all were treated twice with
fenbendazole. The iguanas had a mean body mass of
1206 grams and a mean snout-vent length of 273 mm
and were found to be in excellent condition. A subset
of ten animals had fecal samples preserved for parasite
identification and a Cryptosporidia IFA test; feces were
also cultured for Salmonella and all were positive. The
Salmonella sp. is being serotyped. Slides were made of
blood for hematology. Blood samples were taken for
chemistry panels, mineral analysis, and vitamin D
analysis. Another subset of ten animals had only the
hematology and chemistry panels run. The veterinary
health assessments are being funded by a grant from
the Morris Animal Foundation to the International
Iguana Foundation.
We released the iguanas after three days of
recovery from surgery. All iguanas have stayed within
one kilometer of the release site and have been ob-
served eating, climbing, and basking normally. A
second release is schedule for August, 2002.

Peter J. Tolson, Ph.D.
Toledo Zoological Gardens

Miguel Garcia
Department of Natural and Environmental
Resources, Puerto Rico

Alberto Alvarez of the Department of Natural and Environmental
Resources, Puerto Rico, releases the first headstarted Mona
Island iguana, Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri.

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

Taxon Reports

Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei)

Over the last few months, the Jamaican iguana project
has achieved a number of break-through results:
> First confirmed nesting by repatriated headstarted
> First hatchling born in captivity at the Hope Zoo.
> First recapture of an iguana that was captured,
marked, and released as a hatchling.
> Documentation of long-term (>5 years) survival of
a repatriated iguana.

During late May and June, we observed a record
number of 15 females showing indication of nesting
(body colored with red soil) in the vicinity of the
known nesting sites. Of these females, at least four had
been headstarted at the Hope Zoo. We ascertained
actual nesting in 12 females including two headstarted
animals. We initially observed the two headstarted
females in gravid condition (body cavity expanded),
digging nest holes, and subsequently in a spent condi-
tion (body cavity constricted) closing nest holes and
guarding. This is the first year that we obtained
definitive evidence of clutch deposition among repatri-
ated, headstarted females.
The incubation period was extremely dry and
hot, and hatching success may have been somewhat
suppressed. Still, we witnessed 83 hatchlings emerging
from the known nesting sites, which we had enclosed
with nets and fences. Four hatchlings died under a net
from a cat that attacked them in the night. Using one
of the dead hatchlings as bait in a mongoose trap, we
were able to capture and remove the cat the following
night. We released 58 hatchlings back into the wild; of
these, 34 were equipped with PIT tags, and the re-
mainder were marked by toe-clipping (the arrival of
additional transponders was delayed because of the
September 11 terrorist attack). The Hope Zoo re-
ceived 21 hatchlings for headstarting.
On September 2, we recaptured an iguana that
we had marked and released as a hatchling at a nesting
site in September, 1999. This was the first time that
we have recaptured any marked hatchling, and it may
signify improved survival of juveniles due to the
mongoose control.

We repatriated 13 headstarted animals, seven
females and six males, in February, 2001. Eight of
these animals had hatched in 1993, and five in 1994.
The total number of repatriated animals now stands at
39. The traps employed for mongoose control con-
tinue to be an extremely valuable tool for monitoring
the Jamaican iguana population, and in particular the
repatriated animals. On September 3, we recaptured
the first male ever repatriated; he was released on April
1, 1996, at an age of five years. Though he appears to
live within a few hundred meters of the release site, his
survival had remained undocumented. Overall, we
have now demonstrated survival for over two years (up
to 65 months) for eight of 20 iguanas repatriated
between 1996 and 1998. The first-time recapture of
the male released in 1996 suggests that we may find
even more animals surviving over extended periods.
An important component of the headstart-
release program concerns the health screening of release
candidates, to ensure that no diseases or infectious
agents are introduced into the wild population. Before
the 2001 nesting season, our health screens were
conducted without knowledge of natural, field levels of
parasites or pathogens. This June, Rick Hudson and
Fort Worth veterinarian Nancy Lung traveled to
Jamaica and set up a health-screening lab in central
Hellshire. The purpose of this exercise was to obtain,
for the first time, relevant field levels for comparison to
the levels of our Hope Zoo headstart animals.
The effort was originally intended to be a trial
exercise, to assess the feasibility of conducting such
sampling in the remote interior of Hellshire. However,
we actually managed to collect a number of samples
that were then safely transported back to the US for
analysis. In all, relevant samples (whole blood, blood
smears, cloacal swabs) were obtained from four wild
females. These data will provide the first health
parameters for wild Jamaican iguanas. In addition, we
collected samples from three repatriated, headstarted
Analysis of these samples is on-going. Because
iguanas at the Hope Zoo display strikingly low levels of
parasitic infection (compared to wild individuals of
closely related species), we suspect that the levels of
wild animals will be higher, presumably because some
of the intermediate parasite hosts are absent from the
zoo environment. Examination of headstarted animals
should demonstrate that parasite loads are acquired

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

after release into the wild, and could possibly indicate
the rate at which parasitic infection is established.
The removal of exotic predators has continued
without interruption. With the exception of several
traps close to the nesting sites during June, all 42
mongoose and cat traps remained baited and open
continuously. We have now removed over 300 intro-
duced carnivores (primarily mongooses, but also feral
cats). As evidenced by a reduction in capture rate
(roughly an order of magnitude), we are confident that
our removal plot is 100% free of resident mongooses.
At present, we are capturing an average of 1-2 mon-
gooses per week, and have indications that these
captures represent mainly immigrant animals. Dogs
intruding into the area inhabited by iguanas remain a
problem. So far, we have attempted to remove the
intruders by laying out poisoned bait (and guarding it
against iguana consumption during the day). We are
now planning to set up live traps for dogs at critical
The Hellshire Hills forms part of the Portland
Bight Protected Area that was declared in 1999. To
date, however, no management system to conserve the
site is in place. The implementation of management
appears to be delayed due to conflicts among organiza-
tions that seek to obtain management responsibility for
the Hellshire Hills from the Conservation Authorities.
For the first time, a hatchling emerged from an
undiscovered nest at the Hope Zoo. It was found
within a cage of the main headstarting facility on
September 24, 2001. Several captive females had been
observed digging in June. This event marks the first
ever breeding in captivity of the Jamaican iguana.

SPeter Vogel, Byron Wilson,
and Orlando Robinson
University of West Indies, Kingston

Rick Hudson
Fort Worth Zoo

Turks and Caicos iguana
(Cyclura carinata carinata)

In the Spring 2000 issue of the ISG newsletter, we
described the Cyclura carinata translocation study we
were about to begin in the TCI (Gerber and Alberts,
2000). Here we describe some changes to our original
research plan, our progress to date, and our projected
research schedule.
We originally planned to translocate iguanas
from a single large cay, Big Ambergris, which is threat-
ened by ongoing development (Gerber, 1998), to seven
small cays throughout the TCI that lack feral mammals
and have suitable habitat for iguanas but do not cur-
rently support iguana populations of their own. How-
ever, several unexpected developments caused us to
rethink and modify this plan. First, another field team
has relocated a large number of iguanas from Big Am-
bergris to Long Cay (Mitchell et al., 2000). Second, the
Big Ambergris development has progressed much more
slowly than originally projected. These changes have
reduced the urgency and need to relocate Big Ambergris
iguanas. As a result, we decided to use the closest, large,
threatened population of iguanas to each translocation
cay as the source of animals for translocation. Doing
this will allow us to better maintain existing regional
genetic variation within C. carinata (Welch et al., in
press) while also providing a genetic backup for more
than one threatened population of C. carinata. To avoid
diluting genetic differences between island populations,
and possibly disrupting co-adapted gene complexes
within island populations, all animals moved to a given
cay will come from a single source population. Big
Ambergris will still be used as the source of iguanas for
Six Hills, Bush, and French Cays, but now Little Water
Mammals IAusnen
SPresent Absent
Present Rare
Absent Common
SAbsent Absent

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

Cay will be used as the source population for Bay and
Middle Cays, and East Bay Cay will be used as the
source population for Conch and Well Cays (Figure 1).
In February, 2001, we purchased a 48-foot
power catamaran in the TCI to serve as a research
platform for our studies of C. carinata. At the time of
purchase, the boat had a sound hull but was in need of
a thorough overhaul. Consequently, we kept the boat
in dry-dock at the Caicos Marina and Shipyard on
Providenciales from March through December, 2001,
for recommissioning. The overhaul included every-
thing from hull repairs, interior and exterior refurbish-
ing/remodeling, and new paint to the installation of
new electrical, plumbing, and power generating sys-
tems. We did most of the work ourselves, with help
from friends and family, and in January, 2002, the boat
was launched with a new name: Cyclura. While
working on the Cyclura, we also purchased and outfit-
ted a new 16-foot skiff to serve as our project workboat.
Coinciding with work on the boats, we began
preparations for moving animals to three of the cays
targeted for translocation: French, Bay, and Middle.
These preparations included three steps. First, each cay
was surveyed with dGPS and assessed for habitat
quality. This information was used to construct a GIS
for each island and allowed us to better estimate the
potential iguana carrying capacity of each cay. Second,
data-logging weather stations that continuously record
temperature, humidity, and precipitation were installed
on each translocation cay and their corresponding
source cay. These data will facilitate comparisons
among cays and the identification of environmental
factors influencing translocation success. Finally, traps
for rats and cats were set on all translocation cays to
determine if either of these potential threats existed.
Results of trapping on French, Bay, and Middle
Cays confirmed that all three cays were free of feral cats
but revealed that Bay Cay had Black rats, Rattus rattus.
In addition, rats were trapped on three small cays
adjacent to Bay Cay that are also being considered for
translocation. The effect of rats on C. carinata popula-
tions is not known but rats occur on some of the larger
cays supporting C. carinata populations (including the
proposed source cays), suggesting that they do not pose
a significant threat to iguana populations as a whole.
Nevertheless, rats may pose a threat to individual
iguanas, especially juveniles, and recent studies in the
Bahamas suggest that populations of C. rileyi (similar in
size to C. carinata) on islands with rats have lower

Aerial view of French Cay, TCI. Photo by Glenn Gerber.
densities than populations on islands without rats
(Hayes et al., in press). Because of this, the decision was
made to eradicate the rat populations on all four cays
before proceeding with translocations. Rats were
eradicated by establishing a 15-20 m grid of poison bait
stations on each cay. Each bait station contained at least
four 20-gram blocks of Final Blox rodenticide, which
contain 0.005% Brodifacoum. Between September and
December, 2002, bait stations were periodically checked
and re-baited, as needed, until there was no longer any
evidence of rats consuming bait and rats were no longer
captured in traps. At this point, all bait stations were
removed and uneaten baits were disposed of on
In mid-January 2002, a nine-member team
assembled in the TCI to undertake our first iguana
translocations. Over a two-week period, the transloca-
tion team moved 82 iguanas from Big Ambergris Cay to
French Cay, and 58 and 18 iguanas from Little Water
Cay to Bay Cay and Middle Cay, respectively. To
maximize reproductive potential in the new popula-
tions, only adult iguanas were translocated and equal sex
ratios were maintained. Prior to being translocated, all
animals were sexed, health-screened by a veterinarian,
marked with PIT and bead tags, measured, and bled for
genetic, blood chemistry, and hormone evaluations.
Immediately following the translocations, a five-
member team gathered to conduct a month of follow-
up studies on the translocated populations. During this
time, additional blood samples were collected from a
sub-sample of each population for the analysis of stress
hormones and blood chemistry studies, and data were
gathered on the behavior, dispersal, and diet of iguanas
on each cay. Although translocated animals were
released at a single location on each cay, iguanas colo-
nized the furthest reaches of each cay within a week or

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

two of translocation. Over half of the translocated
iguanas on each cay were observed at least once, and all
animals appeared to be in good health.
Our next trip will be from mid-May through
July, 2002. During this trip, we will to continue to
study the newly founded populations and begin prepa-
rations on the remaining cays targeted for transloca-
tions. Future translocations are scheduled for late-
September, 2002, (Six Hills Cay and Bush Cay) and
mid-January, 2003, (Conch Cay and Well Cay). For
the next few years, research trips are planned for Janu-
ary-February, May-June, and September-October. If
you are interested in participating in these studies,
please contact us for more information.

Hayes, WK., R.L. Carter, S. Cyril, and B. Thornton.
Conservation of an endangered Bahamian rock iguana.
I. Population assessments, habitat restoration, and
behavioral ecology. In: Biology and Conservation of
Iguanas, ed. by A.C. Alberts, R.L. Carter, WK. Hayes,
and E.P Martins. UC Press, Berkeley, in press.

Gerber, G.P 1998. Management plan for the protec-
tion of the iguana. In: Strategic Environmental Assess-
ment for Big Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands,
British West Indies. Coastal Systems International,
Coral Gables, Florida, p.C1-C37.

Gerber, G.P and A.C. Alberts. 2000. Taxon report:
Turks and Caicos iguana (Cyclura carinata carinata).
Newsletter of the West Indian Iguana Specialist Group

Mitchell, N., et al. 2000. Taxon report: Turks and
Caicos iguana (Cyclura carinata carinata). Newsletter of
the West Indian Iguana Specialist Group 3(1):8-10.

Welch, M.E., G.P Gerber, and S.K. Davis. The genetic
structure of the Turks and Caicos rock iguana and its
implications for species conservation. In: Biology and
Conservation of Iguanas, ed. by A.C. Alberts, R.L.
Carter, WK. Hayes, and E.P. Martins. UC Press,
Berkeley, in press.

ft Glenn Gerber and Allison Alberts
San Diego Zoo

Exuma Island iguana
(Cyclura cychlura figginsi)

In 1997, a new population of the Exuma Island rock
iguana (Cyclura cychlurafigginsi) was discovered by a
John G. Shedd Aquarium iguana research team (Knapp
and Buckner, 1998). This population inhabits Leaf
Cay, located northeast of Norman's Pond Cay, in the
central Exuma Island chain and is unique because of
the inordinately large size of adults. In 1997, a male
and female were captured and released that weighed in
excess of eight and six kilograms, respectively. Until
this discovery, the largest recorded C. c. figginsi was 2.8
This private island is actively for sale by the
owner and the presence of an endangered species of
iguana has resulted in restrictions on the use of the cay
and/or the purchase by any potential foreign buyer.
Since the iguana colony on Leaf Cay (13.5 ha) most
likely represents an unauthorized translocation approxi-
mately 15 to 20 years ago, the owner mitigated with
the Government of The Bahamas and agreed to finance
a translocation project. Pasture Cay (5.5 ha) located 73
km north within the boundaries of the Exuma Cays
Land and Sea Park was identified as a potential island
for the iguana colony. The John G. Shedd Aquarium
was contacted in 1999 to conduct a habitat assessment
of Pasture Cay and implement the translocation pro-
Pasture Cay was visited periodically from April
to June, 1999, and three days in July, 2000, and May,
2001. As stated in an original assessment report,
Pasture Cay offers adequate habitat and vegetation for
the survival of an iguana colony. The only initial
concern was the presence of the black rat (Rattus rattus)
on the cay. A rat eradication program using poison bait
stations and snap traps was initiated in May, 1999,
after submitting a risk assessment and obtaining
permission from the Bahamas Department of Agricul-

Results of the Rat Eradication Program
It was difficult to assess the success of the poison bait
stations since most of the poisoned rats likely retreated
and died in the karst limestone once ingesting the
poison. However, one rat was discovered on a beach
with a sore on its right flank that appeared to be
hemorrhaging. It is assumed that this rat was a casualty

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

of the poison, indicating its effectiveness. The snap
traps provided a rough estimate of rat density and were
compared with other iguana-inhabited islands. Four
hundred snap traps were set on Pasture Cay with a 3%
kill rate (N=13). As a comparison, 24 traps were set on
Bitter Guana Cay on 21 May 1999 yielding a 29% kill
rate (N=7). On 8 July 2000, five snap traps were set
on Gaulin Cay, killing one, for a 20% kill rate. How-
ever, I recognize that the kill rate on Pasture Cay may
be comparatively low because of trap wariness on
consecutive nights.

Despite the presence of rats on Pasture Cay, I recom-
mended translocating the iguanas from Leaf Cay. The
cost and time requirements associated with a total and
complete rat eradication were unrealistic. More
importantly, I believe that rats do not pose a significant
threat to iguanas. My hypothesis that rats are not
detrimental to the Exuma Island rock iguana was based
on the additional rat trapping scenarios on Bitter
Guana and Gaulin Cays. Gaulin Cay supports an
extremely healthy iguana population, both in terms of
demographics and genetic diversity (Malone et al., in
press). Rats were reported on the cay in 1983 (J.
Iverson, unpubl. data), again sighted by myself in
1995, and later trapped in 2000. Yet my seven years of
recapture data from hatchlings and empirical observa-
tions demonstrate that successful recruitment occurs
annually on the island. Bitter Guana Cay supports an
iguana population below expected numbers, but it is
most likely not caused by rats rather because of hunt-
ing pressure or territorial behavior induced by the large
size of the cay (Knapp, 1998; unpublished data).

Charles Knapp releasing a C. cychlura figginsi on Pasture Cay.

Hatchling iguanas are observed on the cay at all times
of the year. Additionally, based on kill percentages, the
rat density on Pasture Cay appears to be low and
concentrated away from potential nesting sites. More-
over, translocations of Turks Island iguana (Cyclura
carinata) were being conducted to rat-inhabited cays in
the Turks and Caicos because rats and mice were not
considered a threat to those iguana populations
(Mitchell et al., 2000).
No immediate threats, except human intrusion,
exist for the iguanas once translocated to Pasture Cay
in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. A long-term
monitoring program of the rats and iguanas will be
conducted by the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Sandra
Buckner (Chairperson of the Wildlife Committee,
Bahamas National Trust) to insure that the iguana
population remains viable and increases in number.
The Bahamas Government has indicated that Pasture
Cay (Crown Land) is to be protected under the aus-
pices of the Bahamas National Trust and included into
the conglomeration of cays officially comprising the
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Once the designation
is made, I recommend cutting access trails across the
cay to monitor the iguana and rat populations more
easily. The trails should be initiated away from the
edge of the water and out of sight from passing boats.

Translocation Results
Between 1 and 5 February, 2002, Sandra Buckner,
Gregory Graham (representative for the island owner),
and I carried out the translocation with assistance from
Tara and Craig Dahlgren (Caribbean Marine Research
Center). We intended to capture every individual on
Leaf Cay, though we were unsure of the total popula-
tion size because only four were spotted in 1997.
A total of 59 person hours were dedicated to
searching and capturing iguanas on Leaf Cay. We
observed 20 iguanas and captured 16, including one
subadult. The four iguanas eluding capture included
an adult, a subadult, and two juveniles. It is unlikely
that we observed every iguana on the island (especially
the juveniles) but we are confident that most of the
animals (especially the adults) were captured.
The lizards were housed in large cloth laundry
bags and placed in plastic children's paddling pools
inside the mesh enclosed wet lab at the Caribbean
Marine Research Center on Lee Stocking Island. An
additional tarpaulin was secured above the pools to

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

shield the animals from filtered sunlight and rain. The
animals were processed at night (e.g., morphometric
measurements, PIT tag injection, beading, etc.) to
allow maximum search time on the island during the
day. I intended to draw blood from every captured
iguana but the low pressure from the checked baggage
compartment on the plane pushed the rubber stopper
from the bottle of necessary preservative. I was able to
salvage enough preservative for four samples.
On 5 February, the lizards were loaded in the
back of Gregory Graham's 31-foot boat and taken on a
1.5 hour (73 km) trip north to Pasture Cay. Beginning
at 1045 hrs, the iguanas were released on the south
main beach of Pasture Cay. Blood was taken from four
individuals prior to their release. All animals appeared
healthy and free from harm. They immediately
basked, scampered into the bush, and three individuals
even began feeding on Inkberry (Scaevola plumieri)

Observations from Leaf Cay
I note succinctly two conspicuous observations while
walking Leaf Cay and analyzing sex ratio and tail break
frequency data. These notes are just hypotheses and
require further investigation to substantiate. Contrary
to other islands inhabited by C. c. figginsi in the
Exumas, tail break frequency was higher in males
(50%) than in females (33%) and both were signifi-
cantly higher than other Exuma iguana populations of
high density. For example, the tail break frequency for
the other high-density Exuma Island iguana popula-
tions is 14.1% and 15.7% for males and females,
respectively. The frequencies for the translocated
Allen's Cay iguana on Alligator Cay in the ECLSP are
0.0% and 9.5% for males and females, respectively. I
attribute the low frequencies to a lack of territoriality
imposed by high densities on small cays and the high-
energy costs associated with territorial defense. Fe-
males have higher break frequencies most likely be-
cause of nest site defense. In contrast, iguanas on
Andros display a tail break frequency of 44.4% and
38.5% for males and females, respectively. Andros is
larger and the iguanas are more evenly disbursed
throughout the landscape. Males have a slightly higher
tail break frequency presumably because of territorial
behavior absent in the Exuma populations.
The elevated tail break frequencies of males on
Leaf Cay may be attributed to the skewed sex ratio (5

females, 10 males, 1 unknown; the unknown animal
was counted as female in the breakage frequency
percentages) and perhaps causing males to compete
more aggressively with rivals during mating seasons.
The low population density also may be involved in the
elevated breakage frequencies. The presumed associ-
ated cost of territorial defense in the low-density colony
may be sufficiently low to warrant territorial behavior.
Though no aggressive behavior was witnessed, the
animals (with exception of a west beach male and two
females) were evenly spaced around the perimeter of
the island. This spacing behavior is reminiscent of the
presumed territorial Andros iguanas.
The surprisingly low population growth on the
island may be a result of the biased male sex ratio. A
comprehensive comparative study will be conducted on
Pasture Cay and Alligator Cay to determine if rats
negatively affect population growth in the translocated

I thank Sandra Buckner and Greg Graham for their
assistance throughout the translocation process. Tara
and Craig Dahlgren provided logistical and physical
support during the February capture period. The
owner of Leaf Cay provided financial support for the
translocation. The Bahamas Department of Agricul-
ture and Bahamas National Trust provided the permits
and permission to conduct the translocation.

Knapp, C. 1998. Vanishing iguanas. Journal of the
International Iguana Society 7:27-30.

Knapp, C., and S. Buckner. 1998. Geographical
Distribution. Cyclura cychlura figginsi. Herpetological
Review 29:51.

Malone, C.L., C.R. Knapp, and S.K. Davis. Conse-
quences of Pleistocene fragmentation: isolation, drift,
and loss of genetic diversity in populations of the
endangered Bahamas rock iguana, Cyclura cychlura.
Conservation Genetics, in press.

Mitchell, N., M. Fulford, R. Haeffner, W Clerveaux,
and G. Mitchell. 2000. Taxon report: Turks and
Caicos iguana (Cyclura carinata carinata). Newsletter
of the West Indian Iguana Specialist Group 3(1):7-10.

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002


0.3 19.1 28.5 22.9 37.0 20/17 5 6 4

3.24 39.1 56.8 42.1 80.3 22/21 5 2 31
3.32 41.1 61.0 44.4 89.9 20/21 4 3 24

3.77 38.2 54.4 41.5 82.8 19/19 3 5 26
7.25 54.4 63.8 61.0 131.0 17/16 4 1 36
2.86 40.9 58.1 41.5 78.5 20/19 4 2 18
3.89 42 62.2 46.8 94.6 18/19 4 3 10
7.8 65.5 68.4 57.9 127.6 18/20 5 3 21
3.63 44.9 60.3 45.7 84.3 20/19 5 1 49
3.59 39.4 58.1 42.5 82.3 21/20 3 3 48
5.95 52.0 62.1 61.0 124.0 19/18 5 1 40
7.24 51.0 72.4 63.4 128.0 20/20 4 1 43
5.73 48.3 49.8 54.4 106.5 19/18 4 1 39
7.31 52.2 66.0 66.0 125.3 20/20 3 ? 40
3.71 41.1 63.4 48.0 93.6 19/19 4 2 26
3.82 44.4 62.8 46.9 93.6 21/21 5 3 36

E N , ......................

Bartsch's iguana (Cyclura carinata bartschi)

Four days and three nights were spent on Booby Cay
from 9-21 March, 2002, by ISG members Joe
Wasilewski, John Bendon, and Steve Conners. One
day was spent walking over the entire island (ca. 75
hectares), observing the iguanas, vegetation, the general
state of the cay, presence of goats, and whether any
changes in size or salinity to the saline lakes were
A small pond, about 12 meters x 4.5 meters,
was observed at the northwest corner for the first time.
The large lake at the eastern end appeared similar in
size as it did last year and the salinity was greater than
the sea, owing to evaporation. The two small, long,
thin middle lakes had dried up, there was an abun-
dance of Sessuvium among the ironstone plates, and
many iguanas were spotted. This area is now named
'Rocky Pond' and four iguanas were caught, tagged and
beaded in this area. The lakes shrink and grow accord-
ing to the weather and are normally fuller in Oct/Nov
than in March, when they are noticeably drier.

Stories abound about the goats among local
fishermen. Sizes of herds are about 15 animals. One
herd of 17 was seen, including three kids. Estimates
range from a highly improbable 200, to 150, 100, and
50. The Booby Cay team feel that 50 is a much more
realistic figure, as more would have been spotted if the
number was very high. The police on Mayaguana are
aware of the desire by the authorities and wildlife and
botanical organizations to rid the cay of the goats. I
was approached by the constable, who stated they were
willing to go to the cay and shoot as many as possible
while I was still on Mayaguana. They do not know
where the herds are and will need assistance. Our
opinion is they will need more money than is available
because it will take more than one or two trips to do
the job. One fisherman with a gun, boat, and three
helpers has asked for $1000 US to eradicate the goats.
Unfortunately, the prickly pear, Opuntia
millspaughii, which was previously infected with the
larvae of the South American moth Cactoblastis
cactorum was again observed with possible infections
that seemed to be more prolific than before. This time

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

Appendix. Data for Cyclura cychlura figginsi
translocated from Leaf Cay (NE of Norman's
Pond) to Pasture Cay in the Exuma Cays Land
and Sea Park (1 to 5 February 2002).

BM=body mass (kg); SVL=snout to vent length
(cm); VTL=vent to tail length (cm); HW=head
width (mm); HL=head length (mm);
FP=femoral pores; PR=prefrontal rows;
Azys=azygous scales.

&W Charles Knapp
John G. Shedd Aquarium and
University of Florida, Gainesville

though, one of the other cacti, Melocactus, the Turk's
Cap, was also in a similar state. It is not yet known if
this is indeed the same parasite, a natural die off, or
from some other cause. It was not a question of the cap
(flower) dying and shrivelling - the entire cactus was
empty. The rest of the vegetation was fine. The
Sessuvium was growing voraciously, the seven-year apple
was prolific, and I found a three-foot high coconut
palm, a first observation here. On the mainland of
Mayaguana, it was no surprise to see 'fatal yellowing' on
some of the palms. This is happening throughout
Florida and parts of the Caribbean.
The following is a personal communication with
Henry Alexander Charlton, 82 years old, the great
grandson of Abraham Alexander Charlton, founder of
Abraham's Bay Settlement on Mayaguana in 1881.
Mayaguana is apparently named as a mixture of 'Iguana'
and the month of May, the time of arrival. Abraham
found the then unnamed island of Mayaguana, but
actually lived on Booby Cay (still called Guana Cay by
old locals). He came from the Dominican Republic,
apparently bringing with him a few iguanas, implying
that he more likely stopped over somewhere on the
Turk's and Caicos Islands first, as there are no Cyclura
cornuta on Booby Cay. He apparently farmed, grew
spices, and had a few goats. He then moved over to the
mainland, opposite the cay, and established a plantation
almost at the tip. Although the Booby Cay team
searched that area, no iguanas were found. I have now
been told by Henry Charlton that there are iguanas
about half a mile west of the easternmost point on the
north side, but this communication must be regarded as
anecdotal until verified.
We spent four days on the cay. On the day
spent walking it, only four of the 1999 beaded iguanas

Juvenile Cyclura carinata bartschi on Booby
Cay. Photo by John Bendon.

were seen. One was seen in November, 2001, which
was a good six hundred yards from where it was origi-
nally captured and released. A new map is being
prepared, showing only sites where iguana tracks were
seen. Surprisingly, this covers an enormous area of the
cay. The team did not attempt to capture and bead
many animals, and only twelve lizards from four differ-
ent locations were processed. One previously
transpondered iguana was found as well, appearing close
to death: spines missing, emaciated, very slow-moving
and showing bite-marks. It was not seen again. Of the
twelve iguanas processed, the two heaviest weighed
1700 grams, the lightest 650g. The female iguanas were
noticeably fatter than in our previous November trips,
perhaps because the females are preparing for mating
and egg production. At the fishermen's camp on the
south side, many yearlings were seen, and two-year-olds
were hovering around the conch shells and cooking
pots, scavenging for scraps. There seem to be far more
iguanas in these woods than territorial behavior would
allow, suggesting that perhaps territoriality may
disappear when food supplies are abundant.
No iguanas at this camp were seen chasing
each other; however, many new tracks were
seen that could possibly be evidence of the
'Tango' behavior I have previously reported,
suggesting that this goes on all year.
Glenn Gerber suggested that about 1000
iguanas are present on the cay based on studies under-
taken over a three-day period in 1999. We feel that
perhaps 700 is a nearer estimate until the cay can be
surveyed in its entirety. Another color variation of
iguana was noted, predominantly speckled white against
black (see photo). Of course this may be just individual
variation as only two or three juveniles were spotted like
this. All of the juveniles were very tame that lived
behind the fishermen's 'kitchen' in an area of glades
where the sunlight comes through in speckles, creating
whitish spots on the ground similar to the iguanas'
Sadly, the presence of cats was noted by the
team on the mainland opposite the cay, three hundred
yards away separated by a shallow causeway. A more
extensive cat survey will not be made in November
2002, as we know they are all over the mainland. This
trip was supported by the Miami Metro Zoo Conserva-
tion and Research Fund.
t John Bendon

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila)

The following was presented in 15th Meeting of the
IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group in Dock, Cuba,
17-20 January 2000. Translated/edited from Spanish
by Jean-Pierre Montagne and ISG newsletter editors
(San Diego Zoo). References cited can be obtained
from tandora@sandiegozoo.org

Potential Uses of the Cuban Iguana
Today it is recognized that all species of a country have
many useful values (direct and indirect) in addition to
passive existence (Heywood and Watson, 1995), and
that in many cases, to emphasize and to promote the
useful values of a certain species could help in its
conservation (Webb, 1999) although not always
(Caughley and Gunn, 1996). If use is decided, it must
be sustainable in four aspects: demographic, ecological,
economic, and social (Prescott-Allen and Prescott-
Allen, 1996).
From our native ancestors to present day
fishing communities, the Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila
nubila) has constituted, and still constitutes today, a
valuable natural resource, mainly as a source of meat
for subsistence. This use, combined with the elimina-
tion of its natural habitat in general, has caused the
extirpation or reduction of numerous populations of
the species. At the moment, the Cuban iguana is
relatively abundant only in certain coastal localities of
the island of Cuba and some surrounding cays
(Hudson et al, 1994; Berovides et al, 1996; Perera et al,
1996). Its total population is estimated to be 40,000
to 60,000 individuals (Perera et al, 1996) and its
conservation status is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN
(Berovides et al, 1996).
Five potential commercial uses for the Cuban
iguana are recognized. They include the commercial-
ization of its meat and skin, the sale of juveniles as
mascots or pets, adult samples mounted by taxidermy,
and exhibition for ecotourism. The first four uses are
consumptive, in the sense that individuals must be
extracted from the population, whereas use for
ecotourism is non-consumptive. In the first case, for
use to be sustainable (from the point of view of demo-
graphic sustainability) the quantity of animals extracted
must not jeopardize the replacement rate of the popula-
tion, should not cause environmental damage (ecologi-
cal sustainability), must be economically profitable

(economic sustainability), and must benefit the local
communities (social sustainability).
In our opinion, the Cuban iguana has certain
advantageous qualities that make it potentially
commercializable. These include:
SMeat and skin are supposedly of good quality,
but not yet rigorously evaluated.
> Herbivorous and therefore relatively easy to
> Juveniles are attractive and easy to maintain.
> Adults are large and showy, worthy of observa-
tion, and make good exhibit animals in captivity.
> Ample geographic distribution throughout
Cuba, and in some zones populations are rela-
tively abundant. At the present time, 11 popula-
tion centers are recognized for the species (Perera
et al, 1996), distributed throughout the Cuban
> Relatively high densities, from nine to 25 adult
iguanas/ha in some locations.
> Elevated reproductive capacity.
> Picturesque habitat; accessible and with good
visibility for observation and study.
> Limited resources (food, refuges, and oviposi-
tion sites) that are easily manipulated.

The negative aspects for the commercial use of the
species include:
> Slow growth
> Little is known of its life history to be able to
implement realistic management plans.
> Long life span.
> Low rate of recruitment of populations, due to
the high juvenile mortality.
All the above aspects must be considered when evaluat-
ing the iguanas for their different uses.

The Cuban Iguana as a Mascot or Pet
Juvenile Cuban iguanas are sufficiently attractive to serve
as mascots or pets in the international market, as is true
of many other iguanids. However, the sustainable
exploitation of iguanas for this purpose must consider
the following aspects. In contrast to the relatively low
mortality rate at hatching (between 14 and 22% for
three species of Cyclura: Iverson, 1979), the mortality
rate of young between one and three years of age seems
to be high (45% for C carinata: Iverson, 1979; 95 to
97% for Iguana iguana: Werner, 1991). This is expected

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

given the longevity of adults. It implies that an appre-
ciable quantity of juveniles could be harvested with
minimal impact on the population. As indicated by
Beissinger and Bucher (1992), when juveniles are
harvested, the maximum sustainable harvest lies near K
(carrying capacity) and not at one-half K, as when
adults are harvested. Iguana species tend to be K-
selected (Pianka, 1970), therefore, if populations are
not altered, they must be stable and at equilibrium in
their natural habitats.
Considering all these facts, it is then possible to
experiment with the harvest of juvenile iguanas using
three models, which vary in terms of their expense.
The first is a conservative model of sustainable harvest
(Beissinger and Bucher, 1992) that consists of artifi-
cially increasing K and harvesting the excess produced
by this increase. For Psittacines, K can be increased by
the addition of a limiting key resource, in this case nest
building sites. It is enough to add nest boxes and the
population will be increased, allowing the harvest of the
excess individuals. For populations of iguanas, the
limiting resource, in our opinion, is refuges for local
and immigrant juveniles. Iguanas are herbivorous
generalists (Berovides, 1980; Perera, 1985) so they are
possibly more limited by refuges than by food, which is
known to regulate population size in other groups of
animals (Beck, 1995). It is well known how rapidly
juvenile iguanas will occupy artificial refuges (Carey,
1975; Iverson, 1979, personal observations) which
strongly suggests that this is a limiting resource. Simi-
larly, as with nest boxes in the Psittacines, the addition
of simple artificial refuges (as long as they are accepted)
could in theory produce a sustainable harvest in juve-
niles, because these would be taken from the artificial
refuges, and would represent the excess of the popula-
tion that is normally lost to mortality.
Two other models require expensive facilities
and a minimum level of knowledge about the repro-
duction, development, and maintenance of juvenile
and adult iguanas in captivity. First, eggs can be
collected and artificially hatched and juveniles hand-
reared in iguana farms. In this case, nests would be
collected from certain populations in the wild, and
under a controlled regime eggs would be hatched and
the juveniles raised, retaining close to 40% while
releasing the rest to the wild once they are well devel-
oped (three years), thus simulating what happens in
nature. A similar method has been suggested by

Werner (1991) for Iguana iguana. Lastly, a final model
maintains wild-caught breeders in captivity. These
breeders would produce young for sale, and be replaced
when necessary. We do not consider the production of
juveniles in a closed cycle in captivity very economical,
given the delayed sexual maturity of these animals (6-7
years in C. carinata, Iverson, 1979) and the general
difficulties of raising large iguanids (Werner, 1991).

The Cuban Iguana as Meat and Skin Producer
Unquestionably the most valuable commercial product
derived from the iguana is its meat, considered a true
staple by many indigenous communities in the Ameri-
cas, including our pre-Columbian natives. The food
value of the iguana's meat makes it one of the preferred
staples within the subsistence economy of natives and
farmers of Latin America, especially species from the
genera Ctenosaura and Iguana (Werner, 1991; Ojasti,
1993). The commercial use of iguanas seems compli-
cated, since it must also be considered subsistence use.
In Cuba, consumption of iguana meat is not very
widespread, but certain fishing communities exist that
do practice it for subsistence. Many other communi-
ties do not consume this species based on unfounded
superstitious beliefs, as referred to by Barbour (1945),
that suggest that when iguanas are hunted they emit a
dark fluid reminiscent of the black vomit of yellow
fever victims.
This use for subsistence, connected to the
elimination and/or alteration of its coastal habitats, has
caused the reduction or extirpation of populations of
the Cuban iguana in some areas. Cases known to us
are those of the Peninsula de Hicacos (extirpation) and
Cayos San Felipe (reduction).
Nevertheless, in spite of the high commercial
value of iguana meat, a serious attempt at commercial-
ization has never been made, except for the case of
Iguana iguana in Central America (Werner, 1991). We
do not know of any nutritional studies that have
determined the value of fat, minerals, and protein of
this meat compared to other species exploited for the
same aim.
The consumed parts of the iguanas, at least in
Cuba, are usually only the thighs and the base of the
tail, those parts with the greatest mass of muscle, but
this does not prevent the use of other parts, like the
flanks and anterior extremities. The Cuban iguana
develops to a good size and weight, especially the

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

males, who differ significantly from the females in all
standard linear dimensions and mass (Perera, 1984;
Gonzl1ez et al, in press; table I). The yield from the
consumable part of the iguana (in our case the thighs
and the base of the tail with a length of 15 cm) is
calculated as: (consumable meat/live weight) x 100.
We found slight differences in yield that were insignifi-
cant (p>0.05) between season of the year and the two
sexes, although there was a tendency for yield to be
greater in the rainy season and between males (Table
II). Perhaps in this case the differences were not
significant due to small sample size as the difference
between sexes was almost significant (p<0.10).
The iguana's skin is also used by indigenous
communities and farmers for subsistence (Ojasti,
1993) but we are unaware of any commercialization, as
has been done with the Tupinambis, for example. In
Cuba, the skin of C. nubila has been processed and
apparently is of good quality, but this has not been
valued objectively.
In theory, iguanas can be exploited for their
meat and skin sustainably, under the same principles

used with other species for the same
aim: selecting adult animals under r
(the instantaneous rate of increase
of the population, Caughley, 1977).
We have estimated the value of r for
an introduced population of 12
Cuban iguanas, which after 12
years were estimated to be about 20
individuals (Nt). Assuming no
migration, r is estimated to be
0.042 (4.2%). This means that, in
theory, for ranching to be sustain-
able, no more than 4% of the adult
population should be extracted.
This number is logical if one
considers the longevity of these
animals and their low recruitment
rate, and indicates how
ineffective harvesting would
be from a single population -
in terms of sustainable
extraction of adults, unless Mal
the population is relatively Fem
large. Werner (1991) has
proposed several methods of Tot;

management for exploitation of Iguana iguana that
obviate this problem. In that case, adults extracted
from the population, no matter what their number,
were replaced by captive raised juveniles. The extrac-
tion of adult Cuban iguanas based on captive raised
juveniles is not economically feasible.

The Cuban Iguana in Taxidermy
The large examples of male iguanas, if they are well
prepared by taxidermy, constitute spectacular and
attractive ornaments that can be commercialized.
Extraction of these large dominant males for this aim,
in principle, would not greatly harm the population on
the basis that these males would be old and have very
low fertility. Under the polygamous system of the
species, old males would also be preventing access to
females by younger males, as well as being genetically
over-represented, which lowers the effective population
size. Temporary removal of dominant males has been
suggested by Alberts et. al (2002) as an emergency
conservation measure. Still this should be studied,
because demographic effects may be long term. If this

Males (N=15) Females (N=22) Total (N=37)
Variables Mean Std. Dev. Mean Std. Dev. Mean Std. Dev.
Mass 1723.33 489.84 1005.13 301.94 1245.2 533.44
Snout-Vent Length 37.76 2.71 31.32 4.48 32.88 4.66
Tail Length 47.72 7.87 36.76 5.70 41.71 8.22
Head length 7.16 0.61 5.57 0.74 6.01 1.05
Head Width 4.91 0.61 3.84 0.50 4.03 0.72
Femur Length 9.04 0.95 7.77 0.74 8.24 1.15
Humerus Length 4.25 0.52 3.54 0.56 3.93 0.72
Table I. Body mass (g) and measurements (cm) of the iguanas of Cayo del Rosario,
Los Canarreos archipelago, Cuba. All body measurements and mass differ
;. ,i; , ,il\ between sexes (p<0.001).

Rainy Season Dry Season Total
N Mean Std. Dev. N Mean Std. Dev. N Mean Std. Dev.
e 7 22.57 3.91 7 20.60 2.09 14 21.61 3.16
ale 3 19.58 2.43 13 19.87 2.35 16 19.82 2.28
al 10 21.71 3.66 20 20.13 2.23 30 20.66 2.83
Table 11. Edible parts yield (%) of Cuban iguanas on Cayo del
Rosario, Los Canarreos archipelago, Cuba.

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

method were implemented for the commercialization of
large males, an in depth experimental study would be
needed beforehand, to determine its short and long
term effects on the reproduction, social behavior, and
genetic variability of the population.

The Iguana and Ecotourism
The iguanas of the Caribbean in particular offer enor-
mous potential for use in ecotourism as a charismatic
species, and in fact are already utilized in this way in
Cuba and the Bahamas, among other countries. If we
consider nine aspects of the habitat and the biology of
iguanas that connect them with ecotourism, we see that
practically all are evaluated positively. These aspects are:
> Habitat: attractive and accessible
" Endemism: The genus Cyclura is endemic to the
Antilles and each island has 1-2 species or en-
demic subspecies.
> Detectability: they are large animals and in open
habitat, therefore easily detectable.
> Abundance: usually they occur in high density,
mainly in rocky sites.
> Daily activity: they are diurnal animals.
> Appeal: they are active, herbivorous, and with
many easily observable behavioral patterns.
" Relation with man: utilized by humans for their
meat, skin, and as a mascot; source of legends.

Male Cuban iguana, Cyclura nubila nubila.
Photo by Andy Phillips.

ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

The only two negative aspects in relation to ecotourism
for the iguana are:
> Stationary: little activity of adults on cold days
and months.
> Conservation: species threatened by extinction,
perhaps should be protected and not harvested.
In 1999, we made a visit to the Centro de
Turismo Internacional de Cayo Largo, located south of
the province of Matanzas. One of the varied activities
offered by this center is a visit to Iguana cay, a small cay
(2.6 hectares) populated by 70 iguanas which can be
observed in the typical vegetation of grass and shrubs.
This tour began in 1985 and the prices have varied.
The present cost is $12 (USD) per person. The
present rate of daily visitors is a minimum of 200
people per day, 340 days of the year, for a total of
68,000 visitors per year. At this price, the practice of
observing iguanas is predicted to generate a gross
annual income of $816,000 (USD). The 70 iguanas
on exhibit today have an annual value of $11,657 USD
each and a lifetime value of $104,913 USD (assuming
a longevity of 9 years). Similar numbers were regis-
tered by Munn (1992) for the macaws of the Manu
Reserve in Peru ($750-$4,700 USD per year and
$22,500 - $165,000 USD per lifetime) but are far
below that indicated for a lion in Kenya ($2-3 million
USD per lifetime, Western and Henry, 1979).
The animals on the cay are apparently normal.
They seem fit and healthy, although their normal
vegetarian diet is now supplemented with bread sup-
plied by the tourists. They are completely tame, but
are not easily touched and apparently exhibit all their
behavior patterns normally. No study currently exists
on this population, its habitat, and the impact that this
type of use causes. Of particular interest is the bread
diet supplemented to the animals and the continuous
and numerous presence of tourists. Alberts (2000) has
discussed the use of iguanas for ecotourism in the
Caribbean. An ecotourism plan should minimize
negative impacts on the habitat, contribute to species
and habitat conservation, provide environmental
education for the visitor, monitor the population and
the habitat, and generate benefits to the community.
Visitors should also be in small groups that are not
allowed to feed the iguanas (it alters their metabolic
balance), and not occur during the reproductive season.
None of this is fulfilled for the iguanas of Cayo Largo.
Here, as in almost all the situations of biological

resource use, the criterion of high short-term gains
predominates, at the cost of damage in the long term.
This problem is discussed by Caughley and Gunn
(1996) and throws doubt on whether use of the
species for ecotourism, though non-consumptive, is
always sustainable.

Non-monetary Value of the Cuban Iguana
Up to now we have spoken of the monetary value of
the Cuban iguana, but this species also poses other
use-related value that cannot be directly converted into
economic terms. Particularly, Cuban iguanas may
have ecological value as a key species in coastal ecosys-
tems, since apparently they can influence the genera-
tion and/or dispersion rates of some plant species, by

passing seeds through its digestive tract (Iverson,
1979), a question not yet well studied. Finally, in
addition to the anthropocentric and ecocentric values
of our iguana, we wanted to add that it has biocentric
value, that is to say, it has intrinsic value. By being
biologically unique, the iguanas along with us and the
rest of the million species that populate this planet, has
the right to survive regardless of its other values. If we
can preserve the iguana using the approaches described
here, we may obtain the necessary balance so that
hungry people fill their stomachs while those that have
plenty can enjoy the iguanas.

&4 Vicente Berovides Alvarez
Faculty of Biology, University of Havana

Recent Literature

Alberts, A.C., J.M. Lemm, A.M. Perry, L.A. Morici,
and J.A. Phillips. 2002. Temporary alteration of local
social structure in a threatened population of Cuban
iguanas (Cyclura nubila). Behavioral Ecology and
Sociobiology 51:324-335.

Alberts, A., and R. Hudson. 2001. Iguana. Pp. 598-
603. In: C. Bell (ed.), Encyclopedia of the World's
Zoos. Fitzroy, Dearborn, Chicago.

Lemm, J. 2002. Anegada's forgotten iguana.
ZooNooz: Zoological Society of San Diego

Rehik, I., and P. Velensky. 2001. The biology and
breeding of the Cuban ground iguana (Cyclura nubila)
in captivity. Gazella: Zoo Praha 28:129-208.

G SI3_15�

Romero, L.M., and M. Wikelski. 2001. Corticoster-
one levels predict survival rates in Galipagos marine
iguanas. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 98:7366-7370.

Wikelski, M., C. Carbone, PA. Bednekoff, C.
Choudhury, and S. Tebbich. 2001. Female choice in
marine iguana leks: a wider selection of males obtained
at a cost. Ethology 107:623-638.

Wikelski, M., L.M. Romero, and H.L. Snell. 2001.
Marine iguanas oiled in Galipagos. Science

Wilson, B.S. and P Vogel. 2000. A survey of the
herpetofauna of the Hellshire Hills, Jamaica, including
the rediscovery of the blue-tailed Galliwasp (Celestus
duquesneyi Grant). Carib. J. Sci. 36(3-4):244-249.

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ISG Newsletter 5(1) * Spring 2002

ISG Contact Information

Jose Ottenwalder, Co-Chair
UNDP-GEF Biodiversity Project,
Dominican Republic
Email: biodiversidadl @codetel.net.do

Richard Hudson, Deputy Chair
Fort Worth Zoo
Email: iguanhudso@aol.com

Allison Alberts, Co-Chair
Zoological Society of San Diego
Email: aalberts@sandiegozoo.org

Miguel Garcia, Deputy Chair
Department of Natural and Environmental
Resources, Puerto Rico
Email: miguelag@umich.edu


The World Conservation Union



Tandora Grant
San Diego Zoo - CRES
PO BOX 120551
San Diego CA 92112