Iguana Specialist Group newsletter (ISG newsletter)
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West Indian Iguana Specialist Group

I Newsletter

IUCN - The World Conservation Union
' . Species Survival Commission

Volume 3, Number 2, Fall 2000

In This Issue

0 News & Comments..................... 1
0 Taxon Reports ............................ 2
Cyclura nubila lewisi ................ 7
Cyclura cychlura.................... 8
Cyclura collei .......................... 10
I delicatissima /I iguana....... 11
0 Recent Literature ..................... 16
0 WIISG contact information ....... 16


WIISG Newsletter
Published by the
Zoological Society of San Diego
Center for Reproduction of
Endangered Species
P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112

Senterfor Reproduction ofEndangeredSpecie
Allison Alberts
Tandora Grant

News & Comments
In Caribbean, Endangered Iguanas Get Their Day
NY TIMES Science Section - October 10, 2000
By Mark Derr
While hunting hogs deep in the rugged Hellshire Hills of Jamaica
one day in June 1990, Edwin Duffus rescued a large lizard from his dogs
and carried it four hours by foot and bicycle to his home and ultimately to
Kingston's Hope Zoo. There, Dr. Peter Vogel, a herpetologist at the Uni-
versity of the West Indies, and Rhema Kerr, a zoo curator, identified the
lizard as a Jamaican iguana, believed extinct for nearly 50 years.
The rediscovery inspired an intensive effort to save both the Jamai-
can iguana and the dry tropical forest of the Hellshire Hills that is its last
redoubt. After several exhaustive surveys, Dr. Vogel has estimated the
iguana population at fewer than 100.
"The Hellshire Hills has the most significant natural dry forest left
in the Caribbean," Dr. Vogel said. "Preserving it is key to the Jamaican
iguana's survival and to maintaining the area's biodiversity."
The Jamaican iguana's return from oblivion also focused interna-
tional attention on the plight of all West Indian iguanas, said Dr. Allison
C. Alberts, head of ecology at the San Diego Zoo. In 1997, the World
Conservation Union declared these iguanas of the Caribbean islands "the
most endangered lizards in the world" and organized a group of scientists
devoted to their preservation. Dr. Alberts is co-chairman of that group and
the editor of a report issued by the World Conservation Union in August
that summarizes what is known about the genetics, evolution and ecology
of West Indian iguanas, the threats to their survival and programs to
preserve them. The two most imperiled, she said, are the Anegada iguana,
found only on the island for which it is named in the British Virgin Is-
lands, and the Jamaican iguana. The Anegada iguana was once common
on Puerto Rico and throughout the Virgin Islands.
Genetic analyses to be published in The Journal of Molecular
Phylogenetics and Evolution show that the Anegada iguana is the oldest
member of the genus Cyclura, dating back 15 million to 35 million years.
The research was conducted by Catherine Malone, a doctoral candidate in

genetics at Texas A&M University. As the Caribbean
archipelago took its present shape, wind and ocean
currents occasionally carried iguanas to more western
islands, where, isolated, they evolved into 8 species and
16 subspecies. Every major island has its own species of
Cyclura iguana, and Hispaniola has two. (Two species
of iguana found on islands of the Lesser Antilles are
from a different genus.) Next to the Anegada iguana,
Ms. Malone found the Jamaican iguana to be the most
genetically distinctive and biologically important
species of the group. But inbreeding necessitated by its
small numbers has forced the Jamaican iguana into a
genetic bottleneck, making it susceptible to dangerous
mutations, parasites and disease.
Before European colonization, West Indian
iguanas were the largest terrestrial herbivores on their
islands, where they dwelled in dry forests and thorny
scrub. The lizards can live 40 years, and some, like the
Jamaican and Cuban iguanas, can reach five feet in
length and weigh around 17 pounds. The iguanas
played an important role in island ecology, Dr. Alberts
said. According to her recent research, seeds passing

through the iguanas' digestive tracts and then dispersed
germinate faster and grow better than others. The
iguanas' only natural predators were raptors and
snakes. They also served as an important food for the
Indians, and are still eaten on some islands. But
Europeans and their animals have greatly altered the
ecology of the Caribbean archipelago. Goats strip bare
the vegetation on which iguanas feed; pigs and cattle
disturb nests; cats, rats and Indian mongooses feast on
hatchlings and eggs; and dogs kill mature animals.
More recently, resorts and housing develop-
ments on some Caribbean islands have reduced iguana
habitats to almost nothing and forced scientists to
move animals to safe havens on small, unpopulated
islands. But sometimes there is little to eat and no
place for an iguana to hide.
"There has been an 80 percent decline in the
population of the Anegada iguana since the 1960's,
due mostly to feral cats," Dr. Alberts said. In 1997,
with fewer than 200 Anegada iguanas thought to exist
and none reaching maturity, biologists began collecting
hatchlings and raising them in a special site for release

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

Imperiled West Indian Iguanas
A number of factors, like residential development and the
importation of predators, have contributed to the decline of West
Indian Iguanas, many of which are either endangered or critically
-ndn__rd PR-1 th-e listed as critically endangered by the

White Cay luana 0

San Salvador Iguana Bartsch's Iguana : Turks and Caicos Iguana
Anegada Iguana

Pht a Bgra'hs b,>yBlDarntm , p (\itCay), GenP TpRKS AND CAICOS I
"te (~$aJnar,0rtsc3 JsMCa"

Grand Cayman Iguanai Little Cayman Iguana A Jarnaican Iguana :: Riord's Iguana

Grand Cayman Iguana Little Cayman Iguana Jamaican Iguana lRicord's Ilguana Vo


S3me Th WoT Coi ~ r e iUk, R ,ad kd-so Fdrt WN Zo-

AZA Conservation Endowment Fund Award *
In October, the American Zoo and Aquarium
Association's Conservation Endowment Fund awarded
a $24,990 grant in support of critical conservation
activities for the Jamaican and Anegada iguana pro-
grams. The grant, "Restoration of Two Critically
Endangered West Indian Iguanas through Headstarting
and Release," runs through December, 2001. Both
species have undergone precipitous declines over the
last century, and wild populations are currently esti-
mated at no more than 100 to 200 individuals. For
both species, the primary threat to survival of the
remaining population is predation by introduced
mammals. The rearing of juveniles in a protected
environment until they reach a larger, less vulnerable
body size has the potential to directly address the
problem of reduced juvenile recruitment in each of
these populations. The AZA grant will provide criti-
cally needed support for in-country headstarting efforts
in Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands, including
expansion of ongoing captive programs and long-term
field monitoring of repatriated iguanas following
release. In addition, we will continue to conduct
survey work on wild populations of both species and to
train local staff in iguana husbandry, restoration, and
monitoring techniques.
g4 Allison Alberts
Zoological Society of San Diego

Rick Hudson
Fort Worth Zoo

Legal News September 8, 2000 * The following
press release comes from Peter Murtha, United
States Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Southern
District of Florida
Guy A. Lewis, 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,
Jorge Picon, Resident Agent in Charge for the U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service in Miami and Frank Figueroa,
Special Agent in Charge of the United States Customs
Service in Miami, announced that Phillip David
Langston, 48, of Naples, Florida was sentenced today
for his role in a conspiracy to violate U.S. and interna-
tional wildlife protection laws and U.S. Customs laws.
Langston had previously pled guilty on an indictment
handed-up by a grand jury in Miami on December 21,
1999 charging him with trafficking during the period
of November 1994 through July, 1995, in reptile
species that originated in Haiti and the Peruvian
Amazon and that are protected under an international
treaty known as "CITES," the Convention on Interna-
tional Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora,
which is implemented in the United States through the
Endangered Species Act. United States District Court
Judge Norman C. Roettger sentenced Langston to 15
months in jail and a period of two years supervised
release thereafter.
In entering his plea of guilty, Langston admit-
ted to conspiring to smuggle and selling a large variety
of reptile species protected under CITES and/or
foreign law in the Southern District of Florida, includ-
ing caiman lizards, dwarf caimans, frog-headed turtles,

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

The 2000 IUCN Redlist is now available at http://www.redlist.org
The Redlist is also available on CD-ROM. Because annual updates are planned, there will no longer be a
printed version. This new version integrates plants and animals and consists of:
1. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals
2. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants
3. Oldfield's 1998 World List of Threatened Trees
4. Data from Bird Life International's "Threatened Birds"
5. New assessments, revisions and corrections from the SSC Specialist Groups for 1999 and 2000
Documentation for all species is included but varies depending on the species. Documentation exists for 20%
of mammals, 84% of birds, 4% of reptiles, 15% of amphibians, 1% of fish (mainly the sharks and rays), 2% of
invertebrates (mainly molluscs), and 91% of plants. Redlist coding links to the Endangerment Criteria. The
database will eventually be transferred to the SSC website at http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/siteindx.htm

Gibba turtles, green anacondas, Haitian boas, Haitian
dwarf boas, Haitian vine boas, mata mata turtles, red-
tailed boas, rhinoceros iguanas, twistneck turtles,
white-lipped mud turtles and yellow-footed tortoises.
Langston specifically acknowledged selling approxi-
mately 60 rhinoceros iguanas, native to Haiti (as well
as the Dominican Republic), which is a species cur-
rently threatened with extinction, and listed on Appen-
dix I of CITES, the highest level of protection available
under the treaty. Many of the other species he traf-
ficked in, including the anacondas, boas, caiman
lizards, dwarf caimans and yellow-footed tortoises are
protected under Appendix II of CITES out of concern
that unless trade in this species is strictly regulated they
too could come under threat of extinction. The
government established that the retail market value of
the reptiles listed in the conspiracy charge of the
indictment was at least $120,000.
Langston also admitted to the Court that as
part of his scheme to smuggle reptiles into the United
States he established a "breeding farm" in Peru for the
purpose of making it appear that wild-caught Amazon
specimens (protected under U.S. law and Peruvian law)
were instead captive-bred.
Under the terms of his plea Langston, was
required to surrender his U.S. Fish and Wildlife
import-export license. In addition to the license itself,
Langston also surrendered to the U.S. Fish and Wild-
life Service five Cuban rock iguanas, Cyclura nubila
nubila, a CITES Appendix I species, which were
transported in violation of the laws of Puerto Rico.
The prosecution of Langston is one of a series
of related reptile smuggling prosecutions jointly
pursued by the United States Attorney's Office, the
Department of Justice's Wildlife and Marine Resources
Section and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stem-
ming from the government's execution of a search
warrant of Strictly Reptiles, Inc. in February 1997.
Strictly Reptiles, considered at the time to be the
largest importer of reptiles in the United States, and its
president, Michael Van Nostrand were convicted in
Miami of felony wildlife trafficking charges with
Strictly Reptiles losing its USFWS import-export
license for five years and Van Nostrand being incarcer-
ated for 10 months and jointly paying a total of
$250,000 in fines and restitution. Stemming directly
from the Strictly Reptiles prosecution, eight other
individuals representing four distinct reptile smuggling
rings were convicted of felonies, and six were sentenced

to jail, with sentences ranging up to 24 months. These
reptile traffickers were responsible for smuggling some
of the rarest reptiles on earth, all protected under
CITES Appendix I, including the Anegeda (British
Virgin Islands) Rock Iguana and White's Cay Rock
Iguana, both with populations numbering in the
hundreds, as well as the Argentine boa and the Black
Mr. Lewis commended the work of Special
Agents Chip Bepler of the United States Fish and
Wildlife Service and George White of the U.S. Cus-
toms Service for their work on the case. The United
States was represented in this matter by Thomas Watts-
FitzGerald, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Sec-
tion at the U.S. Attorney's Office and Peter J. Murtha,
Senior Trial Attorney, United States Department of
Justice, Wildlife & Marine Resources Section.

U I a

During 1999 the Bahamas Post Office issued
four sets of postage stamps in celebration of the
Bahamas National Trust's Fortieth Anniversary.
The set issued on 30 November 1999 included
a 65 cent stamp illustrating the Rock Iguana
species Cyclura cychlura cychlura.

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

amaican Iguana Program Receives International
Conservation Award * The American Zoo and
Aquarium Association (AZA) recently awarded the
International Conservation Award for the "Jamaican
Iguana Conservation & Recovery Program" to twelve
zoos who have participated cooperatively in this
project. Officials of the Fort Worth Zoo, Zoological
Society of San Diego, Indianapolis Zoo, Audubon
Institute, Sedgwick County Zoo, Tulsa Zoo, Toledo
Zoo, Central Florida Zoo, Columbus Zoo, Woodland
Park Zoo, Gladys Porter Zoo and the Milwaukee
County Zoo accepted the award at AZA's 76th Annual
For nearly 50 years, the Jamaican iguana was
believed extinct. In 1990, a relic population was
discovered and is now considered by some to be "the
world's most endangered lizard species." Since its
rediscovery, the twelve zoos (coordinated by Rick
Hudson, conservation biologist at the Fort Worth Zoo,
Fort Worth, Texas) have spearheaded Jamaican iguana
conservation efforts by producing logistical, technical,
and financial support for the program.
The conservation and recovery program is
multi-faceted and includes a nest site protection and
active predator control program, the development of
captive breeding populations in both the U.S. and
Jamaica, a headstart program at the Hope Zoo in
Jamaica, and a full-scale reintroduction program. To
date, 26 headstarted iguanas have been successfully
reintroduced into their native habitat. In just ten short
years, the Jamaican iguana has gone from rediscovery
to reintroduction, and over $100,000 has been dedi-
cated by AZA zoos to support recovery efforts. Today,
the project is widely recognized as one of AZA's pre-
miere conservation success stories. In addition, the
Jamaican iguana conservation and recovery program
illustrates the significant impact of zoo-based partner-
ships in the recovery of endangered species.
The International Conservation Award is
presented each year by the American Zoo and
Aquarium Association for recognition of outstanding
dedication to international conservation issues and
development of natural resources.
The American Zoo and Aquarium Association
was founded in 1924 and currently represents 185
accredited zoos and aquariums in North America.
AZA's mission is to support membership excellence in
conservation, education, science, and recreation.

Present Investigations on the Cuban Iguana *
The Cuban iguana is one of the more abundant
species of the genus Cyclura in the Antilles. Over the
last few years in Cuba, several investigations on this
reptile have been developed, including studies of
juveniles in captivity and monitoring of their popula-
tions, and ecological studies for sustainable manage-
ment. This last aspect is the one that our group from
the Faculty of Biology at the University of Havana is
addressing, in cooperation with the National Company
for the Protection of the Flora and the Fauna (Ministry
of Agriculture) and the Agency of Medio Ambiente
(Ministry of Science, Tecnology and Medio Ambiente).
We are testing two hypotheses with observations in the

1. The populations of iguana on the cays comprise a
metapopulation, with subpopulations that act as
sources and drains.
Prediction: The populations on cays that work
as drains have a low rate of reproduction and a high
frequency of hatchling and subadult immigration from
the population sources.

2. The natural limiting factor is the availability of nest
building sites and refuges, and is of key importance in
determining the populations of adult iguanas.
Prediction: An increase in artificial refuges can
increase the density of hatchling and subadult animals.

The predictions of both hypotheses are under
study at the present time. Our work group aspires to
disseminate our results widely and hopes that they can
be applied to the management of other species of
Cyclura in danger of extinction.

,-' Vicente Berovides
University of Havana, Cuba
translation/editing: tandora grant and allison alberts

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

Taxon Reports

Grand Cayman iguana
(Cyclura nubila lewisi)

During the last decade, the Grand Cayman blue iguana
(Cyclura nubila lewisi) has been a primary target species
in the conservation programs of the National Trust for
the Cayman Islands (NTCI), American Zoo and
Aquarium Association (AZA) Lizard Advisory Group
(via the Rock Iguana Species Survival Plan), and IUCN
West Indian Iguana Specialist Group. With a wild
population of less than 175 individuals (Burton 2000),
captive populations were established by NTCI and
AZA, which currently manages 67 individuals (NTCI:
22.14; AZA: 19.12).
The conservation strategy for lewisi applied
scientific methodologies for assessment and long term
management. Genetic evaluation of the U.S. and
NTCI populations was conducted during the mid
1990s by Scott Davis at Texas A & M University. The
findings revealed that all U.S. lewisi were descendents
of one fecund pair residing at Life Fellowship Bird
Sactuary, Sefner, Florida. Although this analysis
signaled the suspension of the AZA propagation
program, it also provided the data to genetically
manage both captive groups as a single entity to
maximize genetic and reproductive potential (Hudson
2000). During this time the AZA regional studbook
for West Indian rock iguanas (Christie 1995) was also
published which presented both genetic and demo-
graphic data.
Following over four years of institutional
planning and negotiations with regulatory authorities,
an exchange of 6 lewisi between NTCI and AZA was
accomplished in October 1999. Two animals (San
Antonio, Studbook #690; Shedd Aquarium #421) were
delivered to NTCI to add the U.S. gene pool to that
population. Returning to the U.S. were four male
lewisi distributed to Central Florida Zoological Park
(CFPZ; #728), Indianapolis Zoo (INDY; #333, #782),
and John G. Shedd Aquarium (JGSA; #605). During
2000, pairings incorporating the exchanged bloodlines
were conducted at all four facilities with the following
NTCI: Female #421 (hatched 1990) was
paired with #604 (hatched 1993) from mid April

through the first three weeks of May. Copulation was
not observed, but there were no problems with sus-
tained aggression. No eggs were laid. Male #690
(hatched 1994) was paired with female #729 (hatched
1994). There were no problems noted with aggression,
copulation was not observed, and no eggs were laid.
Both #421 and #690 were slow to become accustomed
to large adults in neighboring cages in the Grand
Cayman facility, and were still behaving nervously.
The 2001 strategy will involve changing mates if these
pairings continue to be sexually inactive by the second
week of May.
CFZP: Male #728 (hatched 1994) was paired
with female #429 (hatched 1990) in March 2000.
Both animals were of similar size (1.75/1.6kg). Re-
peated female aggression directed towards the male
resulted in separation of the pair for the season. Strat-
egy for the 2001 breeding season includes promoting a
weight gain for the male, and initiating an earlier
introduction during January.

Male Cyclura nubila lewisi. Photo by Glenn Gerber

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

INDY: Male #333 (hatched 1985) was paired
with female #422 (hatched 1990). Interactions re-
sulted in a leg injury to the female that was surgically
pinned. Upon re-introduction, copulation was ob-
served but eggs were not subsequently produced.
"Male" #782 was not paired with any other animals,
yet laid a clutch of eggs which were recovered in her
enclosure during August 2000. Fertility of the clutch
was undetermined due to egg dessication and degrada-
tion. Strategy for the 2001 breeding season will be to
continue with the reproductive management of #333
paired with #422, and implement forthcoming recom-
mendations for pairing the newly identified female
#782 (Gayle Weber, pers. comm.).
JGSA: Male #605 (hatched 1993) was paired
with two females (#535, hatched 1992 and #691,
hatched 1994) in January 2000. Separating and re-
introducing individuals was needed to manage prob-
lems with aggression. The male was observed copulat-
ing with both females and both females subsequently
laid infertile clutches. Strategy for the 2001 season will
be to focus efforts on management of gravid females,
nest site design, egg recovery, and artificial incubation
(Allen Feldman, pers. comm.).
These results typify the challenges with long-
lived, highly social/hierarchical iguanids that exhibit
individual preferences and aversions to conspecifics.
Individual animal recommendations for pairings are
based on reaching the genetic goals for long term
management of the population, and success is not
achieved as easily as it appears on a computer screen.
However the infusion of new genetic diversity from
un-represented founder strains to the U.S. captive
lewisi population now means that ex-situ lewisi breed-
ing in the U.S. has the potential to contribute much
more significantly to the conservation of this taxon.

Burton, F. 2000. Grand Cayman iguana. Pages 45-
47. In: Alberts, A.C. (ed.) West Indian Iguanas: Status
Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN - the
World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.

Christie, B. 1995. West Indian Rock Iguana (Genus
Cyclura): North American Regional Studbook. India-
napolis Zoo, IN.

Hudson, R. 2000. Rock Iguana Species Survival Plan.
In: Lankard, J.R. (ed.), AZA Annual Report on Con-
servation and Science 1998-1999. Vol. I: Conservation
Programs Reports. AZA, Silver Spring, Maryland.

&W Fred Antonio
Central Florida Zoological Park

Fred Burton
National Trust for the Cayman Islands

Andros iguana (Cyclura cychlura cychlura),
Allen's Cay iguana (C. c. inornata), and
Exuma Island iguana (C c. figginsi)

The Shedd Aquarium had a very successful 2000 field
season studying rock iguanas (Cyclura cychlura cychlura,
C. cychlura inornata, and C. cychlura figginsi) on
Andros and in the Exumas. The research was con-
ducted in May with assistance from members of the
general public and college students from the Chicago
area aboard our research vessel R/V Coral Reef II. The
research on Andros was conducted in Middle and
South Bights, while in the Exumas we worked on
Alligator, Bitter Guana, and Gaulin Cays.
Our Andros surveys over the past two years
indicate that small populations of iguanas are present
on numerous cays in Middle and South Bights. The
Middle Bight populations appear small and the igua-
nas are extremely wary. Through conversations with
the locals, we learned that people come down from
North Andros to hunt the iguanas in Middle Bight

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

using dogs. The boat traffic in Middle Bight was much
more noticeable than in South Bight and it appears
that if any population gets large enough to be noticed,
hunting eventually reduces it. Resident crab hunters
and sponge collectors will also take iguanas if the
opportunity presents itself. We worked in Middle
Bight for over two days and observed 14 iguanas but
captured none.
We proceeded south and worked the Lisbon
Creek/South Bight areas. The iguanas were still sparse
but not as wary as the northern populations. Our
capture success was approximately 66% for all iguanas
that were seen. We captured 22 iguanas from five
While docked at Lisbon Creek, we met Mike
and Petagay Hartman, who are constructing an eco-
lodge on South Andros called Taimo. They are ex-
tremely conservation oriented and emphasize educating
the local people about conservation related issues.
They offered their lodge as a place to stay and I look
forward to working with them in the future. We
captured the largest iguana (8.3 kg) and a large female
on their property. They are conscientious of the
animals and want to prevent any adverse effects of
tourism on the animals.
Overall, the range for the iguanas appears
widespread but hunting pressure needs to be curtailed,
especially in Middle Bight. Cursory
interviews indicate that the iguanas
are not hunted in the South Bight
with as much zeal as in the north.
Education programs and the pres-
ence of a full time warden in the
area may help increase individual
numbers and expand the ranges of
existing populations.
Our work in the Exumas
also went well. We noticed more
signs of iguanas on Bitter Guana's
north beach than during all of my
previous trips to the cay. The
warning sign that we erected on the
beach in November 1998 was still
standing and in good condition.
The sand was washed away from
the base of the sign at the middle

beach, so we moved it further up the beach and rebur-
ied it in the limestone storm berm. We erected an
additional sign on Gaulin Cay because the old signs
placed by Peggy Hall (former warden of the Exuma
Cays Land and Sea Park) were broken and in need of
repair. The "no dog" sign that we erected in November
1998 was still present and in good condition.
We are beginning to compile recapture data
and estimate growth rates. High-density populations
have a conspicuous lower growth rate than low-density
populations. Hopefully these data can be compared
and used to augment John Iverson's long-term C. c.
inornata data. I continue to get a low number of
captures from Alligator Cay, which is inhabited by the
translocated C. c. inornata population. Catherine
Malone (Texas A & M University) and I are preparing
a manuscript on the paternity analysis that was con-
ducted in 1999. I will begin my doctoral work on
Andros in May 2001 and will continue working in the
Exumas throughout 2001.

C- Chuck Knapp
John G. Shedd Aquarium
University of Florida

Male cyciura cycmura cycmura.

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei)

The Jamaican iguana recovery program has remained a
high priority for the West Indian Iguana Specialist
Group (WIISG) since its inception in 1997. For the
fifth time over the past four years, small groups of
headstarted Jamaican iguanas, Cyclura collei, have been
released into their native habitat in the Hellshire Hills.
As part of a strategy designed to restore the depleted
wild population of iguanas, an ongoing series of
experimental releases are underway in an effort to
determine not only if iguanas reared in captivity since
hatching can survive in the wild, but moreover whether
they can integrate into the natural breeding popula-
tion. Since 1996, 26 young iguanas, hatched in the
wild from 1991 to 1993 and then raised at the Hope
Zoo in Kingston, have been released, all equipped with
radiotransmitters for monitoring. These releases have
been cooperative endeavors between the University of
West Indies (UWI), the Hope Zoo, the Natural Re-
sources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and the Fort
Worth Zoo. Funding from a core group of U.S. zoos
has supported these releases, including substantial
grants from the American Zoo and Aquarium Associa-
tion (AZA) and the Zoological Society of San Diego.
The WIISG continues to provide logistical support to
both the Hope Zoo headstarting effort and the field
research program.
The Jamaican iguana was rediscovered in 1990
after being considered extinct for nearly half a century.

Female Cyclura collei in Hellshire Hills, Jamaica. Photo by Glenn G

A remnant population was found clinging to existence
in the rugged and remote limestone forests of the
Hellshire Hills along Jamaica's southeastern coast. Two
active nest sites were also discovered and, given ad-
equate protection, now provide a yearly source of
hatchlings for headstart. This population exists today
in a roughly 100 km2 ecosystem which is being de-
graded and compressed as a result of charcoal burning.
This factor, coupled with high juvenile mortality due
to mongoose and cat predation, have brought the
Jamaican iguana perilously close to the brink of extinc-
tion. Today, this species is considered to be one of the
most critically endangered reptiles in the world. How-
ever, recent events provide cause for optimism.
In April 1999 the Hellshire Hills, along with a
significant portion of southeastern coastal Jamaica
known as the Portland Bight (which includes the Goat
Islands, Portland Ridge, Braziletto Mountains, and
encompasses all marine areas out to the 200 meter
depth contour) have now received official protection
under a management agreement with a local NGO, the
Caribbean Coastal Area Management (CCAM) Foun-
dation. The Portland Bight Protected Area has a total
area of 724 mi2 (1876 km2) making it Jamaica's largest
protected area so far. With the Hellshire Hills having
finally been granted protection, attention can now be
directed to Great Goat Island, part of the iguana's
former range. Under CCAM's management plan, the
Goat Islands are slated for tourism, including a field
station with boats. The plan also includes restoring the
iguana population to the island and the time appears
right to begin developing plans to
establish this as an iguana sanctuary.
The year 1999 also brought remarkable
nesting results. At least 16 females
nested this year and 104 hatchlings are
known to have emerged, both record
numbers since the project began in
1991. All but six of these were tagged
and released to the wild. Efforts next
year will be aimed at determining if any
of the headstarted female iguanas are
contributing to the breeding popula-
tion. For the first time in the field
project's nine-year history, several
juvenile (1-2 year old) iguanas were
captured, suggesting that young iguanas
erber are benefiting from the predator removal

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

program undertaken by UWI staff to systematically
trap mongoose, cats and rats from the core iguana
The iguana release program has not been
without its problems over the years, primarily related
to radiotransmitter loss. A vest-type attachment was
found to be optimal for securing transmitters, but
finding a material that would withstand the rugged
Hellshire Hills environment presented a major chal-
lenge. One of the predominant features of this ecosys-
tem is the sharp limestone karst that forms crevices and
retreats favored by iguanas. Generally, the vests would
break down over several months and the transmitters
would be shed, thus precluding the accumulation of
any long-term monitoring data. The most that could
be concluded was that the iguanas survived the short
term following release, utilized the habitat in terms of
locating food and refugia, and appeared to acclimate
well. Due to its durability, Cordura-A was considered
the best material for these vests, however it is not form-
fitting and must be secured with elastic straps.
A breakthrough occurred in 1999 when a
designer with the Nike Corporation learned of this
dilemma and offered to help. Damon Clegg of Nike's
All Conditions Gear Footwear Design Department
begin fabricating vests with a stretch Cordura-A
material that was both rugged and form-fitting.
Equipped with what we believe will be the prototype
iguana vest (bearing the Nike trademark swoosh), six
iguanas were released in November 1999 and are being
successfully tracked. The current field team of Dr.
Byron Wilson, predator control specialist, and student
Delano Lewis, both affiliates of Dr. Peter Vogel of the
Life Sciences Department of UWI, are monitoring the
iguanas daily and making visual sightings at least
weekly. Especially encouraging are the recapture data
that are beginning to accumulate. Interestingly,
iguanas from previous year's releases are beginning to
turn up in mongoose traps. In their daily rounds
checking trap lines, the field crew has recorded 20
iguana captures (about ten individuals including
several headstarts) in live traps, providing for the first
time much needed long-term survival data. With help
from Nike, the team hopes to gather more specific
information on dispersal and habitat utilization.
For their role in the project Nike has received a
considerable amount of positive press and public
relations value. The story was carried by the Associated

Press (AP) wire and featured in several major newspa-
pers. Sports Illustrated magazine and National Public
Radio (NPR) also covered Nike's involvement. The
goal of the WIISG is to expand Nike's role in future
release projects, not only in Jamaica but in Grand
Cayman and the British Virgin Islands. Ultimately, we
hope that Nike will become an official corporate
sponsor for the WIISG and continue to work with the
group as we strive to advance the developing science of
reintroduction technology. The Nike Corporation has
already proved to be a caring and reliable partner, not
only designing and manufacturing iguana wear, but
also replacing vests and reimbursing the iguana project
for a shipment lost in a custom's warehouse fire in
Jamaica. With Nike's continued support, we look
forward to seeing more "fashion -savvy" iguanas
bearing the trademark Nike swoosh in the coming

Rick Hudson
Fort Worth Zoo

Lesser Antilles Iguana delicatissima and
Iguana iguana

Iguana delicatissima in Martinique
In April, 2000, on Ilet Chancel, in Martinique,
we artificially increased the size of an Iguana
delicatissima nesting site in a similar manner to Breuil
(2000). This nest area is situated in an old charcoal
kiln immediately behind a mangrove stand where
iguanas live. In July, there were two nests patches, one
with about ten nests the other with 15 nests. These
patches were separated by approximately four meters of
soil not used by laying iguanas because of stones, roots,
and pieces of bricks that prevent females from digging.
Our goal was to create a new laying surface between
the two patches.
During this work, I found four old nests with
egg shells on the edge of one patch. The first had 17
egg shells among which there were six dead babies, the
second had 11 egg shells with one dead baby, and the
third had nine and the fourth seven empty shells with
no evidence of mortality. As we were at least two
months before the laying season, we also cleared the

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

two existing nest sites which are commonly overdug by
females (pers. obs. 1997, 1999, 2000), resulting in
dozens of eggs lost. After two days, we had sifted and
cleared the soil to about 40 cm deep over a 12m2
This nesting area is surrounded by trees and
partially shaded. The temperature of the nests early in
the morning in July-August is around 280C, rising to
34-360C during the warmest part of the day. To
prevent flooding of the nest area, we prepared the
surface on a slight incline. This appears to be an
important characteristic of all I. delicatissima nests in
the French West Indies except in some sites in Petite
Terre. Because this site receives a significant number of
tourists (more than 10,000 a year) seeking to see a lime
kiln, the ruins of an old brick factory, and the iguana,
we fenced the area (about 100m2) with 40m of green
wire netting to prevent tourists from trampling the
nests but allows passage for iguanas. One of our most
important problems is the high number of crabs. In
July we counted 100 crabs at the site and 130 addi-
tional crabs in a 2m band outside the fence. It is
impossible to prevent crabs from entering and eating
the eggs, so we remove as many crabs as possible.
In July and August, we saw with Georges
Tayalay, the first results of this work. The first females
utilized the original nest sites, but later arriving indi-
viduals nested in the restored area between the two
patches. Compared with preceding years, there was
less egg loss overall at the site. In October, we will be
able to determine whether hatching success was simi-
larly enhanced.
In summer 2000, we found a 1997 tagged
female that had grown from 87cm to 92cm (25.5 to
28cm SVL) in three years. Another 1997 tagged
female in the mangroves near the lime kiln was found
in July 2000 about 1.8km from its initial capture site.
This individual had grown more slowly, from 98cm to
100.5cm (30 to 31cm SVL).
Morphological data collected to date show that
the iguanas on this island are very small compared with
others in the French West Indies. On Ilet Chancel, the
males do not exceed 300mm SVL (1067mm TL) and
1900g (n = 20) and the females 305mm SVL
(1030mm TL) and 1300g when gravid (n = 46). In
Saint-Barthdlemy, the longest male was 385mm SVL
(1360 TL) and 2700g (n = 5) and the largest gravid
female was 385mm SVL (1230mm TL) and 3050g (n

= 20). On Petite Terre, the longest male was 390mm
SVL (1210mm TL) and 2450g (n = 17) and the
longest female 335mm SVL (1150mm TL) and 1950g
(n = 35). On Basse-Terre the largest male was 410mm
SVL (1415mm TL) and 3400g (n = 10) and the largest
female was 400mm SVL (1300mm TL) and 2700g
when gravid (n = 15).
Our conservation work is founded by the
Direction Rdgionale de l'Environnement de la
Martinique (DIREN) with European funds and
technical assistance provided from the Office National
des Eaux et Forets (ONF). I would like to acknowl-
edge Mr. Millo and Mr. Gourbeyre (DIREN), and Mr.
Leroy, Mr. Wentz, Mr. Robin, Mr. Tanasi, and all the
workers of ONF for their interest in this project.

Iguana delicatissima in Saint-Barthdlemy
In April 2000, I visited Fourchue (a small
island north of Saint-Barthdlemy) with botanists Dr.
Anne Breuil and Dr. Claude Sastre, and Patrick
Blanpain and Franciane Grdaux of the Saint-
Barthdlemy marine reserve. This island was reported
to have more than 40 L. delicatissima in the 1960s
(Lazell 1973). Goats were introduced there, resulting
in total destruction of the vegetation and subsequent
erosion. There are less than twenty trees (Cordia,
Capparis) and the only other remaining vegetation is
spiny plants including Opuntia sp. and Caesalpinia
bonduc. In August, we found two nesting holes. The
holes were only about 20cm deep and the hardness of
the soil and the presence of large stones appeared to
pose obstacles for digging. The only other evidence of
iguana we found was a single scat sample.
In August, 2000, I visited the small island
Petite Islette just west of Fourchue with Jean-Claude
Plassais (Yuana Hotel) and Patrick Blanpain, where we
found a lone female I. delicatsisima. Previous to my
visit, Patrick Blanpain had seen an iguana on Ilet au
Vent, east of Fourchue. When we landed there to-
gether, we saw only a few scat samples. Apparently,
there are some I. delicatissima (probably less than ten
adults) which still survive on these islands. They are
probably able to swim the 20m which separate
Fourchue from the two islets.
In August, we also visited Frigate, which in the
1960s was also by I. delicatissima (Lazell 1973). The
vegetation on this island has been destroyed by feral
goats which have now been removed, except for an old

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

male. Since the removal of the goats, the Tabebuia
trees are in good condition and regeneration is in
progress. Hopefully this island will be suitable for a
reintroduction program with I delicatissima from
Saint-Barthdlemy (current population 300-500) in
future years.
With the help of Mr. and Mrs. Plassais (Yuana
Hotel) and Dr. Anne Breuil, I caught, measured, and
tagged 25 I delicatissima. The females ranged from
300 to 385mm SVL and 1400 to 3050g when gravid
(n = 20). The males ranged from 330 to 385mm SVL
and 1800 to 2700g (n = 5). We saw only two sub-
adults, and caught a single juvenile male (195mm SVL,
TL 790mm, and 430g). The lack of subadults may be
due to the 1999 hurricanes, which were responsible for
the death of nearly all one and two year age classes.
Those surviving the storm, are still likely to die of
starvation or be killed by dogs and cars while foraging
long distance for rare food sources. Such climatic
events are very important with respect to population
turnover and reproductive success.

[ [, ,

Hybridization in the Guadeloupean Archipelago
I first proposed the existence of compe-
tition between the two Iguana species when I
observed in 1992 that the island ofTerre-de-Bas
des Saintes was mainly populated by Iguana
iguana, whereas Lazell (1973) found only I
delicatissima there in the 1960s. Moreover, I
iguana was very hard to find on that island, as
in the Chameau on Terre-de-Haut, where Lazell
saw only I delicatissima. Contrary to Lazell
(1973), I proposed that these two species are
able to occupy the same habitats with no
significant ecological separation between them.
In les Saintes, I iguana have clearly invaded
areas previously occupied by I delicatissima.
Moreover, some the I delicatissima of Terre-de-
Bas present an enlarged subtympanic plate
which had been considered a diagnostic charac-
ter between the two Iguana species (Lazell
1973). Based on this, I proposed a scenario of
hybridization with ecological competition,

leading to the elimination of I delicatissima. Because
. iguana lays between two to three times more eggs
than I delicatissima, this process is rapid. With genetic
and morphological data, Day and Thorpe (1996)
confirmed the hybridization hypothesis using animals
from Basse-Terre and les Saintes. Day et al. (2000)
report that hybridization was likely already in progress
in the 1960s.
Since then I have found new hybridization
zones in the Guadeloupean Archipelago on Grande-
Terre and Basse-Terre where the two species occur
together. This summer, I studied the mixed popula-
tion on Grande-Terre, first discovered last year (Breuil
2000). This group lives in a small mangrove patch,
where there are at least one pure pair of I delicatissima,
one female / iguana, three hybrid adults, and some
hatchlings of undetermined species identity.
In all known hybridization zones, the morphol-
ogy of the hybrids is extremely variable, although this
diversity falls into two main groups: the iguana-hybrid
phenotype and the delicatissima-hybrid phenotype,
each resembling one parental form more than the
other. In the delicatissima-hybrid phenotype, nearly all
the diagnostic characters are as in I/. delicatissima, but
one or two are typical of I iguana. For example, these
animals may exhibit a number of gular spikes, rounded
lateral head scales, no conical scales on the nape, a

A hybrid adult male from Basse-Terre, iguana-hybrid
phenotype, displaying the absence ofsubtympanic plate and
the orange coloration.

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

plain tail, but possess an enlarged subtympanic plate
(photo 1).
In the iguana-hybrid phenoptype, nearly all the
diagnostic characters are as in I. iguana, but one or two
are typical of delicatissima. For example, a hybrid male
from Ravine du Carber (Basse-Terre) is nearly orange-
brown with no enlarged subtympanic plate, but
possesses a row of nearly flat isodiametric scales, a low
number of gular spikes (sometimes fused) localized in
the upper part of the dewlap, and a tail with shaded
transverse bands (photo 2).
All the iguanas depicted here were always
found in places where the two species live together,
sometimes in the same stand of trees or even on the
same tree. According to our observations and those of
others, in Basse-Terre and les Saintes, I. iguana has a
short laying period, from the end of April to the end of
May, and the eggs hatch approximately three months
later. I have no data on the laying period of I.

delicatissima on Basse-Terre, but according to Du
Tertre (1667), I. delicatissima descends from the
mountains during May to lay 13 to 25 eggs in sand on
the seashore. In Petite Terre, Martinique, and Saint-
Bartdlemy, I/. delicatissima lays from June to August. In
Dominica, gravid females are found from February to
July (Day et al. 2000). Given the overlap in their
reproductive seasons, these species could successfully
Although data are not yet available, it is pos-
sible that hybrids are fertile or partially fertile, and able
to backcross with either species, giving birth to the
iguana-hybrid phenotype or the delicatissima-hybrid
phenotype, or interbreed themselves. Another possibil-
ity is that the delicatissima-hybrid phenotype is the
result of a mating between an I. iguana male and an I/.
delicatissima female or vice versa.
The hybridization problem is a very serious
issue with respect to conservation. In 1998, Reserve
Naturelle des lies de la Petite Terre was created on my
request to protect I. delicatissima (Breuil 1999). Here,
as in la Ddsirade, there are no I. iguana. Unfortu-
nately, a poster made by the local association for
vertebrate protection (AEVA) to inform people of the
threats to I/. delicatissima, and to promote the natural
reserve, does not discuss the problem of competition
and hybridization. The translocation of iguanas by
local people is a very common practice in the French

Photo 1. Left: A hybrid subadult from Basse-Terre possess characters typical of I. delicatissima, but the tail is banded,
the dorsal coloration is green and 'Li1I banded, and the number ofgular spikes eight, all close to I. iguana. Right: A
hybrid adult male from Terre-de-Bas des Saintes, delicatissima-hybrid phenotype, note the enlarged subtympanic plate.

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

Photo 2. A hybrid adult male from Basse-Terre, iguana-hybrid
phenotype, displaying the absence ofsubtympanic plate and
the orange coloration (same individual as on pg. 13).

West Indies. Translocation of L iguana by humans
from les Saintes to the south of Basse-Terre and then to
other places, as in Grande-Terre, is responsible for the
loss of I delicatissima to hybridization. In Martinique,
an I iguana caught by the police was planned to be
introduced into the I delicatissima population of Ilet
Chancel by a man who loves iguanas and wanted to
provide the animal with a home. Because local admin-
istrations were aware of the competition and hybridiza-
tion risks, the animal was not released.
We have plans to breed both species under
controlled conditions in Guadeloupe to study mating
structure and reproduction.


Breuil, M. 1999. Taxon Reports: Lesser Antilles
Iguana delicatissima and Iguana iguana. WIISG
Newsletter 2(1):7.

Breuil, M. 2000. Taxon Reports: Lesser Antilles
Iguana delicatissima and Iguana iguana. WIISG
Newsletter 3(1):4-5.

Day, M.L. and R.S. Thorpe. 1996. Population differ-
entiation of Iguana delicatissima and Iguana iguana in
the Lesser Antilles. Pages 136-137. In: R. Powell and
R.W Henderson (eds.), Contributions to West Indian
Herpetology: A Tribute to A. Schwartz. Contributions
to Herpetology, Volume 12. Society for the Study of
Amphibians and Reptiles; Ithaca, New York.

Day, M.L., M. Breuil, and S. Reichling. 2000.
Lesser Antillean iguana Iguana delicatissima. Pages
62-67. In : A.C. Alberts (ed.), West Indian Iguanas:
Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan.
IUCN - the World Conservation Union, Gland,

Du Tertre, J.B. 1667. Histoire Gendrale des
Antilles Habities par les Francais. Volume 2:
Histoire Naturelle. Thomas Jollly, Paris, pp.539.

Lazell, J.D. 1973. The lizard genus Iguana in the
Lesser Antilles. Bulletin of the Museum of Com-
parative Zoology, Harvard University 143:1-28.

/ Michel Breuil
Paris Museum of Natural History

A gravid hybrid female from Grande-Terre, iguana- hybrid
phenotype, is beige, 148cm long, with eight gular spikes
in the upper part of the dewlap and no subtympanic plate,
but a series of three scales of 17, 15 and 14mm heigth and
18, 12, and 12mm width respectively, and a tail with
shaded transverse bands.

WIISG Newsletter 3(2), Fall 2000

Recent Literature

Alberts, A.C. 1999. Conservation spotlight: developing
recovery strategies for West Indian rock iguanas. Endan-
gered Species Update 16(5):107-110.

Alberts, A.C., editor. 2000. West Indian Iguanas:
Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN-the
World Conservation Union Gland, Switzerland, 11 pp.

Banbury, B.L., Y.M. Ramos, R. Powell, and J.S.
Parmerlee Jr. 2000. The Cyclura of Parque Nacional Isla
Cabritos. Journal of the International Iguana Society
(Iguana Times) 8(2):3-7.

Glor, R.E., R. Powell, and J.S. Parmerlee, Jr. 2000.
Cyclura cornuta. Catalogue of American Amphibians and
Reptiles (709):1-6.

Hartley, L.M., R.E. Glor, A.L. Sproston, R. Powell, and
J.S. Parmerlee Jr. 2000. Germination rates of seeds
consumed by two species of rock iguanas (Cyclura spp.)
in the Dominican Republic. Caribbean Journal of
Science 36(1-2):149-151.

Knapp, C.R. 1999. Population biology of a translocated
iguana (Cyclura) in the Bahamas. M.Sc. Thesis, Univer-
sity of Florida, 99 pp.

Knapp, C., S. Buckner, A. Feldman, and L. Roth.
1999. Status update and empirical field observations
of the Andros rock iguana, Cyclura cychlura cychlura.
Bahamas Journal of Science 7(1) 2-5.

Mitchell, N. 2000. Anegada Iguana (Cyclurapinguis).
Pp 22-27. In: R.P. Reading and B. Miller (eds.),
Endangered Animals: A Reference Guide to Conflict-
ing Issues. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

Powell, R. and R.W Henderson. 1999. Addenda to
the checklist of West Indian amphibians and reptiles.
Herpetological Review 30(3):137-139.

Powell, R. 2000. Cyclura onchiopsis. Catalogue of
American Amphibians and Reptiles (710):1-3.

Powell, R. and R.E. Glor. 2000. Cyclura stejnegeri.
Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles

Powell, R., J.A. Ottenwalder, S.J. Inchiustegui, R.W
Henderson and R.E. Glor. 2000. Amphibians and
reptiles of the Dominican Republic: species of special
concern. Oryx 34(2):118-128.

WIISG Contact Information

Jose Ottenwalder, Co-Chair
UNDP-GEF Biodiversity Project,
Dominican Republic
Email: biodiversidad@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