Iguana Specialist Group newsletter (ISG newsletter)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00102952/00015
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Title: Iguana Specialist Group newsletter (ISG newsletter)
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Publication Date: 1999
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UK, has agreed to lead us in this project.
Mr. Mark Day from Flora and Fauna Interna-
tional will act as Project Manager for the programme.
Toby Ross and Karen Varnham also from Flora and
Fauna International, will be a part of the project team.
Dr. William Hayes has also agreed to come to
assist in the project. We are very appreciative of the
distinguished individuals who have agreed to assist us
with this national project.
The project will be based on a system that
establishes a grid of bait stations. The bait will be
placed inside bait stations constructed from plastic
tubing. Bait stations will be monitored on a constant
basis by personnel who will remain on the island for
the duration of the project.
All attempts will be made to reduce the impact
on the environment in general, and specifically, to
other species that share the cay as an ecosystem. It is
envisioned that negative impacts to the environment
will be negligible, however great care will nonetheless
be undertaken for maximum environment safety. Bait
will only be placed within bait stations, and all supplies
will be kept in sealed plastic bins. All unused supplies
of bait will be removed from the island upon comple-
tion of the project.
The Department of Agriculture has assigned
two Officers to take part in the project. Additionally,
Officers from the Department of Environmental
Health Services will be taking part in the project. It is
hoped that through the experience gained, these
Bahamians will be equipped with the skills needed for
carrying out similar rodent control programmes in
other parts of The Bahamas.
The Ministry wishes to stress that all precau-
tions will be taken to prevent impact on non-target
species and ecosystems. The anticipated benefits of the
project will result in an improvement in the general
ecosystem conditions of the cay. Predation on iguana
eggs, hatchlings, and juveniles will be eradicated. This
will result in an increase in the iguana population size,
as well as a restoration of the sex ratio to close to
The project will also enable the recovery of the
environment, of the seabird colonies and other wildlife
on Sandy Cay. Similar projects conducted in other
parts of the Caribbean have shown that many groups
prosper after rat eradication: this includes birds,
reptiles and plants.
Additionally the project has an important
ecological value as it will become the demonstration
project that will raise greater awareness of the benefits
of ecological restoration of numerous other Bahamian

The following press release comes from The U.S.
Dept. of Justice via Bruce Weissgold, CITES Policy
Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

October 30, 1998 News Release
Thomas E. Scott, United States Attorney for
the Southern District of Florida, Lois J. Schiffer,
Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and
Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of
Justice and Jorge Picon, Resident Agent in Charge for
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Miami, an-
nounced that a federal Grand Jury sitting in Miami
has returned an 11 Count Indictment charging
Dwayne D. Cunningham, 41 of Pembroke Pines, and
Patricia E. Cunningham, 35 and Robert A. Lawracy,
32, both of West Palm Beach, Florida with illegally
trafficking in reptiles protected under domestic and
international [law] in violation of the Lacey Act (the
Federal anti-wildlife trafficking statute) and the
Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as charging the
defendants with conspiracy and smuggling. Each of
the ten felony charges in the indictment are punish-
able by up to 5 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine,
while the single misdemeanor, the ESA violation, is
punishable by up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
Dwayne Cunningham is named in seven felony
charges and a single misdemeanor; Patricia
Cunningham faces four felony charges and a single
misdemeanor; and Robert Lawracy faces four felony
charges. Lawracy surrendered to federal authorities
today. According to statements in Court, arrest
warrants are pending against the remaining two
According to the Indictment, from 1992
through December 1997, the defendants engaged in
trafficking reptile species that originated on various
West Indies islands and that are protected under an
international treaty known as "CITES", the Conven-
tion On International Trade in Endangered Species of
Fauna and Flora, which is implemented in the United
States through the Endangered Species Act. Several
species of Cyclura (Ground Iguanas), including the
Exuma Island Rock Iguana and the Virgin Island Rock
Iguana and Red-footed Tortoises, are alleged to have
been smuggled into the Untied States aboard cruise
ships touring the Caribbean and the Bahamas that
employed Dwayne Cunningham and Lawracy. The
species of Cyclura listed in the Indictment, are species
currently threatened with extinction, and listed on
Appendix I of CITES, the highest level of protection

available under the treaty. According to the allegations
in the Indictment, the defendants held none of the
required documents for the species they imported,
possessed and sold.
The Indictment further alleges that in an effort
to conceal the smuggling of Exuma Island Rock
Iguanas, the Cunninghams procured from the U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service a permit for the "captive
breeding" of species listed under the Endangered
Species Act to create the impression their sale of these
reptiles stemmed from a viable domestic breeding
program rather than smuggling of wild-caught animals.
Moreover, the Indictment also charges that in further-
ance of the conspiracy to trade in smuggled Caribbean
reptiles, Dwayne Cunningham and Lawracy stole
mature red footed tortoises in 1995 from the Curagao
Zoo and smuggled them to the United States.
A second part of the indictment centers on the
smuggling of highly protected Madagascan Tree Boas,
Madagascan Ground Boas, Radiated Tortoises and
Spider Tortoises, from Madagascar into Germany, and
ultimately into Florida. The Cunninghams are alleged
in the indictment to have been couriers, purchasers
and sellers of these reptiles. Other members of this
smuggling ring, including several German citizens,
have already been the subject of Indictments in the
Middle District of Florida.
Mr. Scott commended the work of Special
Agent Chip Bepler of the United States Fish and
Wildlife Service for his work on the case.
The United States was represented in this
matter by Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald, Chief of the
Environmental Crimes
Section at the U.S.
Attorney's Office and Peter
J. Murtha, Senior Trial
Attorney, United States
Department of Justice,
Wildlife and Marine
Resources Section.

Headstarted Cyclura collei *
wearing radio transmitter e.

Announcements * Following a recommen-
dation at the Oct 1998 WIISG meeting at White
Oak Florida, a Registry for Cyclura held in the private
sector is being developed by James Conyers of CRISIS.
Currently an introductory cover letter and simple
questionnaire are being developed and should be ready
for distribution by the beginning of May. Distribution
format will include email, fax and post. For more
information or to submit potential target audiences for
the survey contact James Conyers (address below).

During 3 weeks in June, CRISIS (Conservation &
Research of Island Species & Insular Systems) will be
deploying 2 field teams in the Hellshire Hills of Jamaica.
Working in support of the Jamaican Iguana Research
and Conservation Group CRISIS will be providing
personnel and equipment to conduct extensive ground
searches for additional nesting sites and iguanas. In
addition to attempting to locate iguanas and nest sites
the teams will be working on GPS/GIS making of the
area. For more information, or if you are planning to be
in Jamiaca during June and would like to join a team in
the field for a couple of days contact:
James Conyers
Conservation & Research of Island Species & Insular
Systems (CRISIS)
PO Box HM690
Hamilton HMCX
441-296-6826 (fax)

F und Raising * A few t-shirts designed by Jeff
Lemm (San Diego Zoo) are still available to help
raise funds for WIISG activities. It features a 4-color
drawing of two adult male Cuban iguanas in a face-off
position on both the front and back of the shirt
(right). The shirt is ash-gray in color and available
sizes include: Youth M and Adult S, M, L, and XL.
The cost is $14 per shirt, ($10 for youth size). To
place an order, please send checks made out to the
FORT WORTH ZOO to Jeff Lemm, San Diego Zoo,
P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112. Printing of
the shirts was the generous donation of Allen Repashy
at SouthSwell ScreenArts. The West Indian iguana
educational poster featuring full color photographs of

14 rock iguanas and a map of the Caribbean is also
available. Contact Rick Hudson, Fort Worth Zoo.


E editorial * For me, the paper by Censky et al.1
which relates the discovery of iguana rafting was
not a surprise. I am aware of first hand observations
made by local scientists and fishermen who frequently
saw iguanas swimming in the sea, far from the coasts,
between the different Guadeloupe Archipelago islands.
To check for over-water dispersal, I tried to
observe Iguana delicatissima at sea by taking males on a
boat and allowing them to jump in the water. One
individual jumped on its own, swam for 80 seconds,
dived 3 meters and stayed under water 28 minutes,
then surfaced and swam for 40 minutes. Iguana
iguana is able to withstand about 270 minutes under
water 2. Even if rafting is the means of over-water
dispersal, free swimming over great distances is for
iguanas another means of colonization.
Moreover, human transport also contributes to
colonizations. I have also observed first hand boatmen
throwing living Iguana iguana from Les Saintes into a
Guadeloupe harbour. This is a common practice
because iguanas are so numerous there that they are
garden pests. Iguana iguana, which are said to inhabit
only some islands of this archipelago3, naturally
colonized islands where Iguana delicatissima was
present, and now competes and hybridizes with them.
Currently Les Saintes have only Iguana iguana and
delicatissima x iguana hybrids.
During hurricanes, iguanas can be thrown
from their trees by the wind and carried to sea (film
made by Mr. Plassais in Saint-Barthdlemy during
Hurricane Luis). During Hurricane Hugo (1989) the
water temperature was 28-29 degrees Celsius4. These
temperatures allow iguanas to swim without being
cooled to the point where they are unable to move.
Censky et al.1 suggested that the iguanas seen
in Anguilla, Barbuda, and Antigua came from
Guadeloupe. Louis Redaud (Parc National

Guadeloupe) told me that a raft with about 15 iguanas
was seen one week after Luis between Guadeloupe and
Antigua. Mark Day (Flora and Fauna International)
and I collected iguana tissues from nearly all the Lesser
Antilles iguana populations, so we are able to deter-
mine, without speculation, the real origin of the rafting
The assertion of Censky et al.1 concerning
iguana distribution is based on outdated statements3.
For example, both iguana species inhabit Basse-Terre
and Iguana iguana out competes, hybridizes with, and
eliminates Iguana delicatissima there; on Martinique
both species are also present, with Iguana iguana
introduced by man from Les Saintes at the beginning
of the 1960s. Thus, it is difficult to say from where
iguanas originated when actual iguana distributions are
not known.
Because a raft was seen landing on an island, it
is incorrect to assume that this means of colonization
may explain all the terrestrial vertebrate distributions.
Man is also responsible for the redistribution of a
fraction of West Indian herpetofauna.

1. Censky, E.J., K. Hodge, and J. Dudley. Nature
395:556, 1998.
2. Moberly, WR. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 27:21-
32, 1968.
3. Lazell, J.D. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 145:1-28,
4. Pagney Benito-Espinal, E In: Hugo Genese,
Incidences Geographiques et Cologiques sur la
Guadeloupe, edited by F. Pagney Benito-Espinal
and E. Benito-Espinal. Parc National de la
Guadeloupe, p.19-75, 1991.
- Michel Breuil
Paris Museum of Natural History

T urks and Caicos News * The Turks and Caicos
Department of Environment and Coastal Resources,
The Denver Zoological Foundation, and The Conserva-
tion Agency have begun a joint project to relocate indi-
vidual Cyclura carinata carinata that will be displaced by
development of Big Ambergris Cay. The relocation effort
will initially be focused on Long Cay, Caicos Bank, once
the feral cat population there has been eradicated.
The feasibility study for this relocation effort,
conducted jointly in January 1999, also resulted in a
range extension for C. c. carinata. A previously undocu-
mented population of iguanas was found on J.A.G.S.
McCartney Cay. Given the high iguana density observed
in regions of the island visited, and the size of the island
(ca. 5 km x .25 km), J.A.G.S. McCartney Cay could
support several thousand iguanas and would therefore
represent an important sub-population. Thorough
population estimates for J.A.G.S. McCartney Cay are
planned by the research team in upcoming months.
d Numi Mitchell
The Conservation Agency
In April of this year, Rick Hudson and Glenn
Gerber met with Government and NGO representatives
in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) to offer assistance in
developing a comprehensive conservation strategy for
Cyclura carinata carinata. The following recommendations
were made in meetings with the Director of the TCI
National Trust, and the Director and Chief Scientific
Officer of the Department of Environmental and Coastal
Resources (DECR): 1.) continued monitoring of all
extant iguana populations, 2.) establishment of a feral
mammal eradication program, and 3.) implementation of
stringent mitigation protocols for new developments
impacting iguana populations. To facilitate implementa-
tion of this strategy, an MOU between the DECR, the
National Trust, and the WIISG was proposed. All parties
agreed to the value of an MOU and a draft document was
circulated. In accordance with the MOU, the WIISG will
act in an advisory capacity for iguana conservation issues,
and will oversee and coordinate the activities of WIISG
members in the TCI.
Regarding the Big Ambergris development, mitiga-
tion actions previously recommended by the WIISG were
reviewed, and an informal proposal for relocating iguanas
from Big Ambergris to nine cays in the TCI (presently
without exotic mammals or extant iguana populations)
was presented. Responses to the presentation were positive
and a formal proposal for this work is in preparation. An
interdisciplinary team from the San Diego Zoological
Society will undertake the proposed project, with assis-
tance from the DECR and the National Trust. To further
discuss mitigation of the Big Ambergris development,
including the official establishment of Little Ambergris

Cay as a Sanctuary, meetings were also held with the
Assistant Director of Planning and with the Permanent
Secretary of Natural Resources.
SGlenn Gerber
University of Tennessee

Taxon Reports

Lesser Antillean Iguana (Iguana delicatissima)

A status survey and conservation assessment of
the Iguana delicatissima population on Sint Eustatius
was conducted 30 October - 12 November, 1998.
Participants were Steve Reichling (Memphis Zoo),
Brian Leysner (CARMABI), Glenn Gerber (Univ. of
Tennessee), Catherine Malone (Texas A & M Univ.),
and Jaap Begeman (SteNaPa). The survey was funded
by the Memphis Zoological Society Conservation
Action Network. The following is a brief and prelimi-
nary summary of our findings.
Six males and five females were captured in the
field, and an additional 1.4 captives were examined
(King's Well Hotel). Range (mean) for male/female
measurements were: SVL(mm): 145-434 (364)/88-401
(322); TL(mm): 417-867 (743)/233-797 (631); mass
(g): 152-3430 (2803 excluding juvenile)/236-2650
(1914 excluding juvenile).
Adult females exhibited the gray dorsal colora-
tion and pink or red jowl pigmentation often attrib-
uted to males exclusively. In this way the population
on Sint Eustatius (representing the St. Kitts bank)
resembles the one on Anguilla (the northernmost bank
in the species' distribution) and differs from popula-
tions at the southern end of the distribution, for
example, Dominica. The hatchling resembled juveniles
observed in Dominica, and are very different in colora-
tion compared to juvenile I. iguana.

Steve Reichling and Catherine Malone

The 7.9 animals actually handled (6.5 wild, 1.4
captive) were permanently marked with Trovan PIT tags
(courtesy of Fauna & Flora International) on the dorsal
surface of the left rear leg (except for one hatchling
tagged on left posterior trunk), and by attaching a
unique color combination of glass beads to the base of
the nuchal crest.
An objective of the survey was to estimate density
by mark-resight or distance survey methodology. How-
ever, densities were too low to be quantified by either
technique. During -116.5 man hours over 12 days,
searching throughout the island, only 23 animals were
caught or sighted in the wild. Previous density estimates,
based on similar experience by Day and Leysner in 1992
of -300 animals seems reasonable.
Relative densities were estimated as hours
searched per iguana seen. The island was subdivided into
seven zones which appeared to offer distinct habitat types
to iguanas: Quill crater, outer slopes of Quill, foothill
scrub around base of Quill, Island Estate development,
Cultuurvlakte (central plain), foothills and guts border-
ing northern hills, and northern hills (Boven, Gilboa,
Little Mountain). No iguanas or signs of recent presence
were observed in four zones: Quill crater, outer slopes,
foothill scrub, and Cultuurvlakte. Hours searched per
iguana were: Boven Hills 2.75, bordering foothills and
guts 7.3, Island Estates 1.8.
Despite the small sample size, a clear pattern
emerged regarding the distribution of I delicatissima on
Sint Eustatius. All iguanas were encountered in one of
three areas: the Boven Hills region and the foothills and
guts at the margin of these hills at the north end, and in
the Island Estates development area on the NW slope of
the Quill. These localities encompass the most inacces-
sible parts of the island from the standpoint of threats to
the iguanas. Boven Hill and surrounding peaks are
physically difficult to access due to the lack of roads and
steep slopes with thick, thorny vegetation. Reaching the
areas where iguanas live probably requires more motiva-
tion than most iguana hunters can muster. The Island
Estate properties are retirement villas owned by American
citizens, with lushly landscaped yards that are fenced and
off limits to local residents hunting iguanas, as well as
goats. An effort to search systematically throughout the
island was made. Areas where iguanas were easily found
in 1992 by Day and Leysner and independently by
Reichling, such as the cliffs along Smoke Alley Beach,
English Quarter, and the foothill scrub at the SW base of
the Quill seem devoid of lizards now. Occasional
sightings in these areas by residents indicate that some
remain, but the numbers must be extremely low.
Human predation on Lesser Antillean iguanas for
food continues to threaten the population on Sint
Eustatius. The problem of feral goats which was noted in

1992 has gotten worse, with over 8,000 animals ranging
free over the 11.8 sq. mile island (a goat to human ratio
of 4:1). Reduction of the goat population and corral-
ling the remainder is a sensitive issue which has resisted
attempts to address in the past. A feral cat problem,
which was not apparent during earlier field work, has
developed and may be preventing recruitment of
juveniles, although we saw no direct evidence of this.
However, the cat population, and its negative influence
on iguanas, can be expected to grow unless action is
taken. An introduced plant (from Mexico?) locally
known as coralito or coral vine (precise identity un-
known by us) is slowly blanketing large parts of the
island, covering native vegetation in a way reminiscent
of kudzu in the southern US. This plant may represent
a serious threat to the total ecosystem of Sint Eustatius,
and specifically to iguanas by competing with food
Blood samples were collected from 16
delicatissima (11 collected in the field and 5 from a
captive group at the King's Well Hotel). These will be
incorporated into the phylogenetic analyses of the genus
Iguana and the West Indian iguaniines by Catherine
Malone and Scott Davis (Texas A&M Univ.). The
team also collected tissue samples from I iguana on
Saba during a side-trip (see Taxon Report this issue for
I. iguana). Femoral pore samples from male I.
delicatissima were collected for use by Allison Alberts
(San Diego Zoo - CRES) in her analyses.
Three positive developments in the conserva-
tion of I delicatissima on Sint Eustatius occurred
between the 1992 surveys and the present study. A
NGO, the Sint Eustatius National Parks Foundation
(SteNaPa), has been established with the responsibility

Steve Reichling and Jaap Begeman

of managing and supervising the marine park and
protected lands. SteNaPa Manager Jaap Begeman is a
bright and dedicated biologist well-informed on the
iguana issue and very interested in the species' protec-
tion. In March 1997 a law was passed making it illegal
to hunt and kill iguanas on Sint Eustatius, punishable
by a 5,000 guilder fine (-$2,860 US.) However, the
law is not universally obeyed. Enforcement of the law
usually occurs only when the staff of SteNaPa report a
violation. The crater of the extinct volcano, the Quill,
and the outer slopes of the old cinder cone above 250
meters has been designated a National Park. More
relevant to iguanas was the designation of the Boven-
Gilboa Hill/Little Mountain area as a "protected land-
scape", with further development prohibited. This area
appears to support the greatest number of iguanas on
the island. However, goats overrun this region and the
landscape is considerably degraded. SteNaPa is cur-
rently finalizing a management plan for the Quill, and
will then begin to develop one for the Boven Hills area.
When the Sint Eustatius field work was being
planned, we hoped to find one of the last healthy
populations of Lesser Antillean iguanas in need of
protective measures and management to maintain the
situation. Instead we found a dwindling remnant
population with good protective measures on paper but
not effectively implemented. The survey team believes
that the most effective target for future efforts should be
education and public relations on the island in an effort
to inform the local residents and government of the
status of their iguanas and need for protection, propos-
ing alternatives or modifications to common practices
that are sensitive to the needs of the people. Similar
efforts have been carried out successfully through the
coordination of Fauna and Flora International, and that
expertise, via Mark Day, should be sought for any
endeavor on Sint Eustatius. Now that the relatively
concentrated population of Boven Hill has been lo-
cated, another survey should be conducted to estimate
density so that it can be monitored closely. Target year
for both these activities is 2000.
As the only extant population of Iguana
delicatissima on the St. Kitts island bank, the Sint
Eustatius iguanas are important to the genetic diversity
of the species. The current situation on the island is
worsening, but optimism is warranted given the interest
shown by SteNaPa and the local government in protect-
ing the species. A carefully planned and deftly delivered
education campaign will be the key to the long-term
survival of iguanas on Sint Eustatius, and implementing
this campaign should be a priority goal of the WIISG.
Steve Reichling
Memphis Zoo

In Martinique, Iguana delicatissima is restricted to
the north coast of the island and some inland sites but I
do not know the size of this population. The largest I
delicatissima population is found on Ilet Chancel.
Ilet Chancel, which is about 80 ha, lies on Baie
du Robert on the Atlantic coast. In 1993, Mark Day,
with my help, visited this island to measure and collect
tissue samples from I delicatissima. In 1994 and 1997, I
visited this island and was able to find two of the iguanas
tagged 4 years before (one male, one female) in the same
trees. When I was in Chancel in August 1997, it was the
laying season as in other parts of the range. I was able to
estimate this population at 250-300 iguanas. Half of the
island is covered with treessuch as Hippomane and
Tabebuia, which are commonly eaten by iguanas. It was
surprising not to find a greater iguana population as is
found on Petite Terre. The limiting factor is apparently
the small area available for egg laying. In fact, there are
only two main sites and two smaller sites. In the main
sites, the ground is overdug by the females such that they
dig out previously laid eggs. In 10 days, more than 40
eggs were thus destroyed by iguanas. I have proposed
some modifications of the two laying sites, mainly to
increase the surface area and to prevent the collapse of
one site that is situated at the edge of a plateau.
Ilet Chancel is planned to be a reserve shared
between private owners (the island is inhabited) and the
Office National des Forets. In Martinique, Iguana
iguana is also present, with its main colony found in Fort
de France and increasing. This summer I will try to find
solutions to prevent L iguana from colonizing Ilet
Chancel. We know that these common iguanas were
introduced to Martinique in the 1960s, probably from
les Saintes. Genetic studies will confirm this.
Following my work with Mark Day in les Iles de
la Petite Terre (Guadeloupe) and a one year study on
birds and iguanas sponsored by the Association pour
I'Etude et la Protection des Vertebras des Petites Antilles
(AEVA), the french government decided to create a
natural reserve for these islands. The reserve was offi-
cially created on Sept. 3, 1998 and these islands now
have full legal protection. Although the 1.5 km2 islands
were inhabited by 12,000 -16,000 L delicatissima before
Hurricanes Luis and Marylin (1995), at the beginning of
1996 the population dropped to about 6,000 individuals.
During the study we collected iguana scat
monthly for one year to study iguana diets and compare
the different kinds of vegetation consumed during the
wet and dry seasons.
(4 Michel Breuil
Paris Museum of Natural History

Common iguana (Iguana iguana)

The small island of Saba, located in the north-
ern Lesser Antilles, was visited by Catherine Malone
(Texas A&M University) and Glenn Gerber (Univer-
sity of Tennessee) from November 12-16 to investigate
the population of common iguana, Iguana iguana,
found there. Financial assistance was provided by the
Memphis Zoological Society Conservation Action
Network, and Fauna and Flora International. Logisti-
cal assistance was provided by Tom Vanit Hof (Saba
Conservation Foundation), Jaap Begeman (St.
Eustatius National Parks Association), Steve Reichling
(Memphis Zoo), Brian Leysner (CARMABI), and
Mark Day (FFI). The following is a brief account of
our visit, including our interest in this particular
population of Iguana iguana.
Saba is a small volcanic seamount (approxi-
mately 14 sq. km with a maximum elevation of almost
900 m) and is the only island on (near) the Saba Bank.
Saba also appears to be the only island in the northern
Lesser Antilles that supports a native population of
Iguana iguana (excluding recent hurricane induced
colonizations). All of the surrounding island banks
support native populations of Iguana delicatissima, or
at least did historically. Thus, the population of
common iguanas on Saba is relatively isolated and
somewhat an anomaly. Further, the animals are
melanistic and therefore appear to differ, at least in
coloration, from most other populations of the species.
For these reasons, we suspect that Saban iguanas may
represent a unique and endemic form of Iguana iguana.

A relatively
young (only
Adult male
SIguana iguana
from a cliff
face on Saba.

The recent finding that common iguanas on St. Lucia,
which also differ in coloration from other populations,
are genetically distinct from other sampled populations
(S.K. Davis and C. Malone, unpublished data) also
supports this. Consequently, the primary purpose of
our visit was to collect blood samples from Saban
iguanas for genetic analysis. In the process, however,
we also collected data regarding distribution, abun-
dance, threats, body size, coloration, and femoral pore
On Saba, we found iguanas to be widespread
but patchy. Iguanas are primarily associated with rock
outcroppings, cliff faces, and the steep slopes of rocky
guts (ravines) from sea level up to at least 450 m.
Although the maximum elevation that iguanas reach
on Saba is not known, it is unlikely that they occupy
elevations much higher than 450 m as climatic condi-
tions (temperature, moisture, and sunlight) are prob-
ably not suitable. High elevations on Saba are almost
continuously shrouded in clouds and the climax
vegetation at the summit is elfin cloud forest. Even at
lower elevations, cloud cover is common and ther-
moregulation is probably physiologically challenging
much of the time. Indeed, it appears likely that
melanism among the Saban iguanas is an adaptation to
the thermoregulatory challenges imposed by the local
environmental conditions.
Over the four day period of our trip, we saw at
least 16 individual iguanas. Not a large number, but
this is at least partly attributable to the fact that we had
inclement weather conditions for much of our stay and
the iguanas tend to occupy areas difficult to access.
Several residents relayed to us that they regularly see
iguanas basking on the rock wall that borders the
islands only road, and on rock outcroppings and cliffs
near their homes or businesses. Nevertheless, most
residents questioned believed that the iguana popula-
tion had decreased considerably in recent years. The
population is, without question, well below carrying
In addition to humans, Saba has feral cats, rats,
sheep, and goats. These animals (including humans)
must have a collective impact on the iguanas, but the
extent of this impact is unknown. Predation of juve-
niles by cats (and possibly rats) may be high, as we did
not see any juvenile iguanas during our stay. Sheep
and goats are numerous and widespread, and appear to
cause considerable damage to the vegetation, especially
at lower elevations. However, residents that hunt sheep
and goats informed us that their numbers are down
dramatically from years past. Residents also hunt
iguanas for food and may be partly responsible for
their present distribution. That is, many of the cliffs
and rock outcroppings where iguanas are common are

The view of Saba as seen from
St. Eustatius, the nearest island
to the south. The clouds
enshrouding the higher eleva-
tions are typical and respon-
sible for maintaining the
island's high elevation climax
vegetation (elfin cloud forest).

inaccessible without climbing gear, although the
iguanas can easily be shot with a rifle.
Of the 16 iguanas seen during our visit, we
were able to capture six: five males and one female.
The female was 322 mm SVL and 1440 g. The males
ranged in size from 224 mm SVL and 430 g to 435
mm SVL and 3170 g. All animals captured were
adults, including the smallest male which had ex-
tremely large and well developed hemipenes for its size
(based on our experience).
Saban iguanas are melanistic, but only as
adults. The smallest animal seen (also the smallest
animal captured) was bright green with bold black
bands on the tail and partial black bands on the body.
As the animals age they gradually lose their green
coloration and the banding on the body is lost. Ani-
mals of intermediate size generally had tails which were
strongly banded (black and very light tan), limbs that
were completely black, and bodies that were partially
melanistic (individual scales were black with an orange
tip). The largest and presumably oldest animals were
almost completely jet-black with little or no visible
banding on the tail and little or no orange on the
The only area of the body that apparently does
not turn completely black with age is the dorsal surface
of the head. The head and dewlap of young animals
are predominantly green, as is typical of the species,
but with age, a black patch develops posterior to each
eye. With further development, the black patch
becomes larger and more prominent, the rest of the
head becomes very pale, and the throat and dewlap
darkens like the rest of the body. The scales of the

lower jaw, including the subtympanic plate, generally
take on a deep (but bright) purple hue at this time as
well. With increasing age, most of the head, throat,
and dewlap turn entirely jet-black and only the dorsal
surface of the head remains pale (often bluish white).
In addition, the scales of the dorsal crest (including
those on the dewlap fringe) which start out green, pale
with age and then gradually turn black starting at the
base and eventually extending to the tip.
In addition to collecting blood samples for
genetic analysis, femoral pore secretions were collected
for comparison with other iguana populations. This
will be done by Allison Alberts (San Diego Zoo).
Although these analyses are not yet complete, there
were two unusual characteristics regarding the femoral
pores of the Saban iguanas. First, every animal cap-
tured, including the adult female and the small male
(less than one-sixth the mass of the largest male), had
well developed femoral pores that were actively secret-
ing. Second, all of the old adult males had femoral
pores which seemed unusually large (again, based on
our limited experience). The largest femoral pore
exceeded 1 cm in diameter.
We will post another communication to the
WIISG with the results of the genetic analyses when


C)- Glenn Gerber
University of Tennessee

Anegada iguana (Cyclura pinguis)

The fledgling recovery effort for the critically
endangered Anegada iguana, Cyclura pinguis, has a
brand new headstart facility, one that markedly ex-
pands and improves this important component of that
project. Despite a number of travel delays and setbacks
due to Hurricane George which hammered Puerto
Rico and much of the BVI, a team representing the
WIISG finally arrived on Anegada and began work on
28 September 1998. Rick Hudson and Mike Fouraker
(Fort Worth Zoo) and Jeff Lemm (San Diego Zoo,
CRES) were joined by iguana biologist Glenn Gerber
(University of Tennessee) who was already there work-
ing on an ongoing population assessment. This new
facility was funded by a grant from the UK Foreign
Commonwealth Office to the BVI National Parks
Trust (NPT) which sponsored, in part, the construc-
tion team's stay on Anegada; additional funding was
provided by proceeds from West Indian iguana poster
and T-shirt sales.
The team arrived to find the area cleared and
graded, and the cinder block foundation set according
to specs. With the assistance of local construction
workers the structure was completed by the end of Day
4, and then landscaped with local plants on the last
day. The new facility consists of six large adjacent wire
mesh units each measuring 3 m x 4 m x 2.6 meters and
should provide the program with adequate space to
increase their headstart capabilities in the coming years.
What had began as a modest facility designed to hold
three iguanas captured in 1997 has now been substan-
tially expanded in scope, and currently houses 17
iguanas hatched in 1997 (2) and 1998 (15). Thirteen
of the 1998 hatched iguanas were from a single nest
that had been located and marked by Glenn Gerber in
June, and then hatched and collected in September.
Three more hatchlings were collected during our stay
there in and around the Bones Bight area and the
Settlement. Two deaths have occurred to date: one of
the 1997 juveniles was predated by a racer Alsophis,
and one of the 1998s died of unknown causes.
Concerned with the slow growth of the 1997
hatched iguanas, the team spent time reviewing hus-
bandry procedures with Trust employee Rondel Smith
who is in charge of the headstart program. Daily
feeding and maintenance protocols were implemented,
and procedures for monitoring monthly growth rates
were put in place. With a small grant from the Fort
Worth Zoo to the NPT, a second iguana caretaker,
Kevin Faulkner, was hired on a part-time basis. A
second shipment of dry iguana chow was recently sent
to get them through a food shortage period caused by

Headstarting has increasingly become a viable
component of the recovery strategies for endangered
Cyclura, especially where the primary threat is high
juvenile mortality associated with predation by intro-
duced exotics. In this case it is considered a stopgap
measure to increase survivorship in juveniles which are
lost to cat predation soon following hatching. Anegada
supports a large population of feral cats, and a portion
of the UK grant is designated to examine the feasibility
of controlling or eradicating this threat. Another
critical aspect of Mr. Gerber's field research is to locate
and mark iguana nest sites so that hatchlings can be
collected in sufficient numbers for headstarting and
eventual release. This strategy has also been utilized
successfully in the conservation efforts for both the
Jamaican and Grand Cayman iguanas.
The facility is located near the municipal
building which houses the police department and other
local government offices, and is hence highly visible.
Perhaps one of the more important roles that the new
Anegada headstart facility will serve is that it will
become an area of focus for the local people, helping to
raise awareness and concern for the plight of their
native iguana. We were encouraged to find that the
conservation story of the Anegada iguana was already
receiving excellent media coverage. Two local travel
magazines for the BVI and a local airline featured
articles on the ongoing efforts by the National Parks
Trust to restore the iguana.
The UK grant also funded Glenn Gerber's
1998 field research and iguana population assessment
which has already contributed substantially to our
understanding of the nesting ecology and distribution
of Cyclura pinguis on Anegada. A recent grant from
the Zoological Society of San Diego will allow Glenn's
field work to continue this year with the assistance of
Jeff Lemm during both the nesting and hatching
seasons. This information will increase our knowledge
of the natural history and ecology of this critically
endangered iguana, expand the headstarting program,
and enhance our ability to take effective conservation
Rick Hudson
Fort Worth Zoo

Recent Literature

Alberts, A.C. and T.D. Grant. 1997. Use of a non-
contact temperature reader for measuring skin surface
temperatures and estimating internal body tempera-
tures in lizards. Herpetological Review 28:32-33.

Alberts, A.C., A.M. Perry, J.M. Lemm, and J.A.
Phillips. 1997. Effects of incubation temperature and
water potential on growth and thermoregulatory
behavior of hatchling rock iguanas (Cyclura nubila).
Copeia 1997:766-776.

Alberts, A.C., M.L. Oliva, M.B. Worley, S.R. Telford,
Jr., P.J. Morris, and D.L. Janssen. 1998. The need for
pre-release health screening in animal translocations: a
case study of the Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila).
Animal Conservation 1:165-172.

Arestd, M. 1998. Cyclura. The ground iguanas of the
Caribbean. Reptilia 2 (Mar/Apr):7 pp.

Bendon, J. 1997. Mayaguana blues. Journal of the
International Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 6(1):3-9.

Bendon, J. 1997. Moon over Mayaguana: return to
Booby Cay. Journal of the International Iguana Society
(Iguana Times) 6(4):81-87.

Franz, R., C.K. Dodd Jr., and S.D. Buckner. 1996. A
review of herpetology of the Bahamian archipelago.
Bahamas Journal of Science 3(3):22-30.

Fuhri, C. 1997. Status of the Sandy Cay rock iguana,
Cyclura rileyi cristata. Journal of the International
Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 6(2):27-30.

Hayes, W.K. 1997. Decline of the Sandy Cay iguana.
Journal of the International Iguana Society (Iguana
Times) 6(2):31.

Lazell, J. 1997. The stout iguana of the British Virgin
islands. Journal of the International Iguana Society
(Iguana Times) 6(4):75-80.

Lemm, J.M. and A.C. Alberts. 1997. Guided by
nature: Conservation research and captive husbandry
of the Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila). Reptiles

Martins, E.P. 1998. Estimating ancestral states of a
communicative display: a comparative study of
Cyclura rock iguanas. Animal Behavior 55:1685-

Mitchell, N.C. 1999. Effect of introduced ungulates
on density, dietary preferences, home range, and
physical condition of the iguana (Cyclura pinguis) on
Anegada. Herpetologica 55(1):7-17.

Rehak, I. and P. Valensky. 1997. Second generation of
Cuban iguanas, Cyclura nubila, born in Prague Zoo.
Gazella 24:93-107.

Tenldn, R. 1997. Mona-saaren leguanni, Cyclura
cornuta stejnegeri, Barbour and Noble 1916.
Herpetomania 6(3):5-13.

Warner, D.A. 1997. An overview on the evolution of
the family Iguanidae. Journal of the International
Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 6(3):57-65.

Wissman, M.A., and B. Parsons. 1998. Cesarean
section in a Cyclura iguana. Reptiles 6(3):84-89.

WIISG Contact Information

Sandra Buckner, Co-Chair
Bahamas National Trust
Email: sbuckner@bahamas.net.bs
Jose Ottenwalder, Deputy Chair
UNDP-GEF Biodiversity Project,
Dominican Republic
Email: biodiversidad@codetel.net.do

Allison Alberts, Co-Chair
Zoological Society of San Diego
Email: aalberts@sandiegozoo.org
Richard Hudson, Deputy Chair
Fort Worth Zoo
Email: iguanhudso@aol.com

The World Conservation Union