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Jamaican Iguana Conservation Programme

The Jamaican Iguana, found only in the Hellshire Hills, is one of the two most endangered lizards in the world. It was classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as critically endangered and was ranked among world's 100 most endangered species in 2012.

The Jamaican Iguana could not be nested under the Dry Forest Conservaiton Programme because of the very specialized and intensive programmes for its conservation. It has therefore been identified as a separate conservation target.

Problems

The main threats to the survival of the Jamaican Iguana are:

  • predation by mongoose, cats, dogs and pigs
  • destruction and disturbance of habitat by charcoal burners and other forest users
  • lack of genetic variation in the population

Ongoing Measures

The Jamaica Iguana Recovery Group has been successfully implementing programmes for many years and has drafted a recovery action plan. The specific objectives set out by the JIRG are as follows:

  • continuous predator removal trapping programme in Hellshire Hills
  • expansion of existing trapping grid through the addition of 200 new mongoose/cat traps and deployment of 12 dog/pig traps in core iguana area
  • collect DNA samples for determining genetic structure and variability of iguana population
  • locate new iguana nesting sites and, if possible, collect new genetic material to invigorate the existing captive population
  • daily monitoring of known iguana nesting areas to assess nesting composition and nest position
  • erect nesting site enclosures to protect and collect hatchling iguanas
  • daily monitoring of nesting areas, processing of hatchlings and transfer of 40 hatchlings to the Hope Zoo headstarting programme
  • continuation of annual pitfall trap surveys to index abundance of terrestrial vertebrates and large arthropods in core iguana area
  • continue baseline, pre-eradicaiton surveys of the Goat Islands, including the establichment of vegetation plots to monitor post-eradication responses

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