Adult iguana numbers drop 90%

| 01/10/2019 | 46 Comments
Cayman News Service
Young iguana (Photo by Mark Orr)

(CNS): Even though this year saw a vast number of hatchlings emerge during the green iguana breeding season, the national cull has cut the number of this invasive reptile dramatically. One year after the army of registered cullers hit the bush, they have reduced the population by more than 90%, officials from the Department of Environment revealed in the latest issue of the Terrestrial Resources Unit’s magazine, Flicker.

According to the summer’s population count, the remaining green iguana population was down to about 103,000, a 92% reduction in the headcount since the cull began in October 2018. This year’s hatchlings began to emerge during and after the survey but the cullers are keeping on top of the breeding season.

Over the past seven weeks the number of culled iguanas turned into the counting station at the George Town landfill has risen steadily, where “bucketful after bucketful of hatchlings” are being brought in, the article said.

“While we have no direct measure of the number of green iguana hatchlings that have emerged this year, we should be mindful that it represents the reproductive output of the breeding iguanas that were nesting earlier this year when there were many more surviving adults than is the case today,” the experts said, adding that the emergence of hatchlings was inevitable and expected.

The number of young iguanas around now illustrates how powerful the invasive iguana reproductive potential is, especially as the cull reduced the pressures of crowd competition.

“This is a reminder that the cull, which is fast approaching the one million mark, will always be chasing a moving target,” the unit stated. “The total green iguana population has evidently rebounded far above August’s 103,000. The cullers have a significant challenge to overpower the hatchling emergence and keep us on track to resume a net decline and a much reduced breeding population by next summer.”

The cull is expected to continue into 2020 and registration continues to be open for Caymanians to join during working hours at the reception facility at the entrance to the landfill. Cull training opportunities are also available for Caymanians who wish to become cullers but who need to learn the skills and practices.

Contact Cornwall Consulting at 949-1544 or 769-8888, or for more information.

See back issues of Flicker here

Issue #44 is not yet posted, but to receive an electronic copy, email

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (46)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well done! Don’t stop until it’s completely eradicated.
    And the Agricultural Department and plant nurseries must be more vigilant with inspecting plants coming in from Florida where this is a big problem.

  2. Sum Wan Hu says:

    And the bad part is…………………….. This culling thing is everlasting. The money given out by the government will be “forever”. Unless each and every green iguana is exterminated they will be some (probably a lot) that will continue to breed and restore the population. There is no way to get rid of every green iguana by hunting and killing them. Some will always escape and they will breed and it will be a continuous problem. If they are not ALL killed, they will keep breeding. You need a way to kill them all, then keep more from getting here. It ain’t gonna be easy!

    • Anonymous says:

      Then you have people keeping them & breeding them in cages so they can cull & collect the $ for their iguana farming efforts …

  3. Anonymous says:

    CNS, if your headline is correct, per info from the DoE, how definitive is this? Surely this “general” declaration is misleading and, if presently correct, it remains dynamic.

    Juveniles continue to mature, therefore within a few months this assertion will be quite incorrect!!

    I question the benefit, if any, of the DoE making this declaration.

    • SSM345 says:

      Pretty sure Cayman’s inner bush land / swamp is absolutely loaded as no one can get in there unless they start renting a helicopter and shoot them from the air…

      • Anonymous says:

        Not so sure about that. Not a lot of flowers or fruit in there. It’s the blues that like the inland areas

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Fortunately for us all, the greens tend to congregate around people and the fruits that they grow.

        Rock Iguanas, both Sister Islands and Blues, are more commonly found in the deep bush.

        • Anonymous says:

          That’s because you probably haven’t ventured into the interior of the island and seen how many are actually in there! There are plenty of mango,guavas, almonds, seagrapes,silverthatch berries, birch tree berries and bird eggs for the greens to feast on! Most folks just notice them around the coast or in residential areas but myself as a culler see it differently and we have a heck of a task trying to remove them from these areas. I dont think that they would ever be fully eradicated. There has to be constant pressure on them to keep the population in check and the minute we slip up the population will bounce right back! This cull should have been conducted years ago – maybe then we could have possibly eradicated them when they were confined to the western side of the island.

          • BeaumontZodecloun says:

            You misunderstand my comment. I am fully aware of the low-hanging fruit that were culled initially, and completely aware of where the greens are found.

            If you are a culler, I think you’d have to agree that the “inner bush” had less greens before the cull began. Now that the easier to access areas have been culled, then yes, the more difficult areas will have more greens.

            The point is, we can’t let up. Ever. The culling must continue, especially now as the juveniles are popping up everywhere.

            Keep up the good work!

      • Anonymous says:

        No need to even go that far. I saw several on one street in the SMB corridor just the other day.

  4. Anonymous says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    Good job with declining numbers seems like Govt. could increase what they pay per head

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well done to all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who is counting?

    • Anonymous says:

      and how?…..both are secrets.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! Where are the culled greens being stored for audit. Someone has to police this boondoggle of a gravy train.

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        They aren’t being STORED! They are culled, counted and added to the general problem, although their contribution to the dump is less, them being biodegradable.

        Instead of repeating this erroneous speculation every time a green ig story comes out, why don’t you once go to the dump and see for yourself!! It’s not a terribly cerebral thing. Just go see and understand!

        No conspiracy. Just a bunch of people making money doing a necessary job that nobody else wants to do, which is being done for the benefit of all of us and the indigenous fauna in our beautiful islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Iguanas down 90%: trolls up year to year,

    • Hancock says:

      Same people that count beans

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can you pop along to South Church Street as a number of hatchlings have appeared and are certainly growing in size

  9. Anonymous says:

    With no knowledge of what impact this will have on the enviornment.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only impact the cull is creating is a positive one. Come on people they are invasive. They dont belong on this island. They are doing harm to the environment by being on this island. They scare nesting birds, eat local plants and flowers and they put our native blues at risk of disease and crossbreeding (which would be detrimental). On top of that they poop everywhere. Pools, decking you name it. This cull needs to happen. Since it began my family actually have leaves and flowers on our trees and shrubs and can go swimming without getting ear infections. – something that hasn’t happened in years. As for all these comments flying around about “who counting them”, “theres no way this is legit” and “where do the bodies go”. Any member of the public can go to the section of the dump dedicated to this project and see the skip and the iguanas being counted. There is no mystery of secrecy about this. Stop flogging a dead horse and just accept that the counting and processing is done by the book.

      • Anonymous says:

        Terribly sorry that some iguanas cause you incovenience and the occasional ear infections but, i’m not referring to your comfortability when I say the “enviornment”. It’s not all about you.

        • Anonymous says:

          9:11 you must not have read my comment properly then. I mention, quite clearly, the negative impacts the green iguanas have on the environment (They scare nesting birds, eat local plants and flowers and they put our native blues at risk of disease and crossbreeding). For good measure I added the irritations they cause people also. But my concern is aimed predominately on the negative impact the iguanas inflict on the ENVIRONMENT. But please do correct me if you know of any “negative” impacts on the environment caused by the cull itself. I’m waiting with baited breathe. Maybe read my entire comment before reply with snarky comments.

          • Anonymous says:

            I wish the Green’s interference of native birds was limited to scaring them. They eat the eggs and fledglings, and represent a realistic threat of extinction to our native birds. Happy with that 5:24 am?

            • Anonymous says:

              I also wish all the trees being cut down because of over development just scared the birds too. Hmmm it’s almost like destroying the environment leads to the inability for some species to thrive. Who would have thought?

          • Anonymous says:

            Typical for us humans to blame another animal for “destroying the enviornment”. Listen to yourself. And people wonder why the earth is the way it is. Humans not owning up to how much of an impact we have on the earth too busy killing other animals in mass genocide thinking that is progress. We’ve done more harm to the blue iguanas than the green iguanas could ever do. Gonna sit there and tell me other animals are the problem? I’m not a sheep like some people on here so don’t spoon feed me your nonsense.

            • Anonymous says:

              Maybe your ignorance clouds your lack of common sense when it comes to these invasive animals.
              The green iguanas eats the blossoms off of the fruit trees before it even gets a chance to bud, not a really good thing to have on an island where majority of the population soley depends on its organic food products, cant you recall a few years ago we didnt have a mango season because of these pest
              Cullers keep up with the cull and dont stop until every last one is gone and you all deserve every penny paid for their bounty, my garden has never looked so green until now.
              If you sir/maam are really that concern about the enviorment then there’s a tree along the road side in South Sound riddled with rusty nails that can really use a hug right now.

            • Anonymous says:

              So what you are suggesting is that we need to cull humans instead, maybe we should start with you.

            • Anonymous says:


            • Anonymous says:

              He is probably the one who “attacks” Greta Thunberg

        • Anonymous says:

          And it’s not about you being too stupid to appreciate that eliminating an invasive species is GOOD for the environment. Or put it another way – want to explain how letting an invasive species multiply exponentially is good for the environment? Looking forward to that, but suspect you will have no answer. You may not like killing, but allowing an invasive species to destroy indigenous species food sources and out compete them into extinction is not nice either.

          • Anonymous says:

            Keep beleving that the green iguanas are the problem.
            I have a bridge to the Brac I want to sell you.

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