Efforts needed to stop stowaway ‘greens’

| 08/05/2017 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service

Rock Iguana hatchling and hybrid (Photo by Jeanette Moss and Tanja Laaser)

(CNS): The recent discovery of hybrid iguanas in Little Cayman, where green iguanas mated with the indigenous rock iguana, has highlighted an alarming biosecurity issue. The National Trust for the Cayman Islands is urging the public and relevant agencies to help stop the greens stowing away on boats. While volunteers are working hard to stop the invasion, they cannot do it alone. The Trust warned that as numbers grow on the Brac, the threat in Little Cayman further increases.

“There is a heightened need for vigilance and biosecurity checks and balances at every stage of the importation process,” the Trust said in a release.

A protocol for containers en route to Little Cayman is now needed and the National Trust is exploring what methods can enhance biosecurity, including the use of dogs.

“The risk to small islands like Little Cayman is serious, as they can quickly be overrun by a prolific invasive species such as the green iguana,” the Trust warned.

The hybrid iguanas are a cross between Sister Island rock iguanas (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) and green iguanas (Iguana iguana), a genetic combination that was previously thought to be unlikely as the two are not closely related, and in fact belong to different genera. The fact that the two seem to be able to mate poses a serious threat to the rock iguanas’ genetic integrity.

The National Trust and the Department of Environment (DoE) are working with the Green Iguana B’Gonna (GIBG) project, an initiative established in 2007 by the Little Cayman District Committee of the National Trust together with the local community. An initial $40,000 was raised by the Trust’s 2015 Easter Auction to highlight the problem and to create a protocol to limit the spread of the species.

Volunteers in the Sister Island are working tirelessly to manage the threat, but the Trust said more effort was needed to focus attention on this issue. The population increase of greens on both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac will inevitably lead to an increase in them making their way to Little Cayman.

Residents or visitors who encounter a green iguana on Little Cayman should immediately call the GIBG hotline number (917-7744).

The GIBG team has also established a Facebook page where sightings can be reported.

For more information on how you can help contact Trust Environmental Programmes Manager Paul Watler at pwatler@nationaltrust.org.ky or call 749-1125.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Give me a gun and I’ll shoot every one.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Damn, these Iguanas are some horny mofos.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just kill them all. Including the chickens.

  4. Unemployed Entrepreneur says:

    Soon I’m going to start breeding greens in captivity specifically for slaughter. At $2 a piece why wouldn’t I?

    • Be Honest says:

      Easy money – just like all the weapon and cocaine sales in here…terrible…but yes $2 a guana bobo!

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are so many different ways to say the same thing: the Cayman Islands barely have any kind of handle on boat traffic (including broad daylight international arrivals and departures).

    • Anonymous says:

      Iguanas doesn’t come from Jamaica,they come from central America namely Honduras, probably on those fishing boats, makes you wonder what else comes on board from there,those people and boats should be searched by the police/customs with a fine tooth comb,their all pest.

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