Blues get over $200k for future conservation

| 22/01/2019 | 26 Comments
Blue iguana, Cayman News Service

Adult blue iguana

(CNS): The Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, which has saved Grand Cayman’s iconic and endemic iguana from extinction, has received a welcome grant of over CI$212,000 as it moves into Phase II of this critically important conservation project. The money has come from the the Darwin Plus Initiative, a UK-based grant scheme that helps to protect biodiversity and the natural environment worldwide, and will go to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, which has run the programme since 1990, when the blues were on the brink of disappearing forever. At that time there were just 30 blue iguanas but today there are over 1,000 surviving in the wild and in reserves.

In a press release about the new grant, Nadia Hardie, Executive Director of the National Trust, reflected on nearly 30 years of dedicated support from local corporations, international grants and the work of countless volunteers that has saved the blues.

“We are indebted to the organisations and individuals who have partnered with the Trust to reinstate the wild population of our native land animal and to ensure the continued existence of this majestic creature,” she said.

blue iguana, Cayman News Service

Juvenile blue iguana (Photos courtesy National Trust)

But while the iguanas have been saved from extinction, the programme is transitioning into the next phase of the conservation efforts to ensure the population is sustainable. Stuart Mailer, Environmental Programmes Manager at the National Trust, who will lead the project, said this will be possible with the receipt of this grant.

“Our new strategic plan for the programme will include a better facility to house the captive iguanas, improved husbandry, and added manpower to monitor the blue iguanas now roaming the Trust’s Salina and Colliers Wilderness reserves in East End. Phase II will also address challenges such as disease prevention and encroaching predators,” he said.

As the blues get a boost of funding to help secure their future, they will also be starring in a television show in the US. Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin will be featuring the iguanas in a forthcoming programme. Emmy-winning host Corwin visited Grand Cayman on a cruise ship as part of his latest series and will now be making this special Cayman ambassador the focus of a future episode.

The blue iguana breeding facility is located at the QEII Botanic Park and currently houses around 70 blues of varying ages. 

To learn more about the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, visit

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just a thought but are the cullers of the green iguanas aware/taught the differences between the 2 species?! Cause that would be a travesty if they were killing the blues as well due to lack of knowledge.

    CNS: This has actually already come up as an Ask Auntie question. See Distinguishing blue from green iguanas

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s amazing! A charity will give $200k to save on type of iguana, while the government will give $3million to kill another variety.

    Happening right now. Today.

    The world we live in…

    • Anonymous says:

      Getting rid of the greens is also saving the blues, you absolute helmet!

      • Anonymous says:

        I have a question- what is the diet of the blue iguanas and also is there a specific number we are striving to reach in this conservation effort.

      • Anonymous says:

        They have come a long way from the 1960s. The first time I saw a blue was on a visit to Hope Gardens while in school in Jamaica in 1966. Good job!

    • Anonymous says:

      Both are good causes, what’s your point?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Darwin Initiative is not a charity. It is the only programme of the UK government that funds conservation in the Overseas Territories. As such it would be a failing if NTCI and other qualifying entities did not attempt to secure a share of the funding that is available.

  3. Joe King says:

    Why do they throw millions at the iguana projects and other stuff yet there in not one dollar spent on conserving what we have! Don’t worry about the greens because in the next few years there will be no conch or lobsters and all the “I need to feed my family” guys will have to hunt the greens to eat. Just saying!

  4. R. Smith says:

    Love seeing the blue iguanas at the botanic park…great under utilized place to see the blues and chill out

  5. Anonymous says:

    Curiosity what happens when these things populate and then become a nuisance like the greens? Once again here we are spending money but not looking at the long term. I can see it now 20 years from now there will be another culling program to rid/control the population. What will be the future repercussions of your actions today?

  6. Anonymous says:

    And my charity for Save The Native Caymanian got nothing. I wonder how much each Blue Iguana gets in cash to shop at Foster’s to buy their favourite lettuce?

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no indigenous people on Cayman. Get that right first.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are no indigenous people anywhere outside of Africa if you go back far enough. Get that right first.

        • Anonymous says:

          Oh you poor soul

        • Anonymous says:

          Yep, seems entirely reasonable to compare a time gap of 2 million or so years ago from when man moved out of Africa and into Asia, or 30000 years or so for movement into the Americas, with the 300 odd years of settlement in Cayman.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Half of the cullers probably dont even know the difference between the blue and green.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So a UK charity gives us $212K to protect blue iguanas, whereas we spend $3 million – so far, estimated to be $8 million – to exterminate greens. I appreciate that culling greens may be essential to protect domestic species including the blues, but if we can give that much from the EPF for killing the invasive species how much are we giving from the EPF or government towards helping the greens? Or do we just leave it to foreign charities and the National Trust? I guess there are no votes in funding blue conservation, whereas plenty of Caymanian voters getting paid to kill greens.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you suggesting that since so much money is being spent on eradicating the greens, there should also be money spent on saving/helping them? Makes no sense!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Need to cook longer than the turtle and not as tasty but still worth saving.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t the money come from the government direct?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because its money spent in Cayman that we didn’t need to be taxed for in the first place. Win-Win.

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