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Cayman Brac iguana critically endangered

Pete, a Cyclura nubila caymanensis, next to a ...

Pete, a Cyclura nubila caymanensis, next to a window (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lesser Caymans Iguana or Cayman Brac Iguana or Cayman Island Brown Iguana or Sister Isles Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) is a critically endangered subspecies of the Cuban Iguana (Cyclura nubila). It is native to two islands to the south of Cuba: Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are also known as the Sister Isles due to their similar shapes and close proximity to each other. This subspecies is in decline due to habitat encroachment by human development and predation by feral dogs and cats. It is nearly extinct on Cayman Brac (less than 50 animals) and Little Cayman supports a population of 1,500 animals.
»Cyclura nubila caymanensis

The rock iguana (Cyclura nubila Caymanensis) is unique to the “sister islands” Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are the two smaller islands of the three Cayman Islands. It is a subspecies of the Cuban Rock Iguana. (Source: website of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands).

We wish to demur from the assessment of Info Sheet #62, which states “The tiny iguana population surviving on Cayman Brac is too small to be regarded as viable in the long term.” But we fully agree to the next statement: “… a concerted effort to reduce the thousands of feral cats, many living in hunger and misery in the woodlands, must first be undertaken.” (In this regard we must give credit to our local Humane Society and its spaying and neutering policy.) Further, land must be reserved and protected as habitat. This is underway, albeit very slowly.

Based on the observation of Brac district committee members (about 35 in number) we estimate the present number of iguanas on the Brac to be about 100. We have direct evidence of about 50 (local naturalist T.J. Sevik agrees) and the factor of two is conservative because our terrain should hide many iguanas. So it seems the “few tens of survivors” in 1996 totals about ten tens of survivors, in 2010, against all obstacles.

We have identified critical habitats to be protected by acquisition. Further, we are prepared to draft a voluntary protocol for land-owners, whereby they would sign up to certain conditions to share their properties with our native iguanas, and to protect our native creatures and their habitat from predation and destruction.
»History, status and future for ROCK IGUANA (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) ON CAYMAN BRAC

The Lesser Caymans Iguana is established in captivity, both in public and private collections. Private individuals have established these animals in captive breeding programs (both purebred and occasionally mixed with either the Blue Iguana, Cuban Iguana, and sometimes with both) minimizing the demand for wild-caught specimens for the pet trade.

Cayman Brac

Cayman Brac (Photo credit: Lee Shoal)

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