Friday, June 27, 2008

A Sad Story: Destruction Of Another Forest Zone Of Interest: Please Forward This To Your Friends To Raise Awareness

A Sad Story: Destruction Of Another Forest Zone Of Interest: Please Forward This To Your Friends To Raise Awareness

From Balakrishnan Valappil <balakrishnan_>

To Yahoo Hope Thane Group Members and

Hi friends

Palaparamba is a typical hill top near my house, just five minutes walk away! It is above 400 ft from MSL and around 40 km from the west coast and the same distance away from Western Ghats. It is a private land of extend less than 2 hectares; there are cashew nut plants amidst open and bushy land the flora and fauna diversity is very interesting, especially insects. I am a regular visitor here since the last three years. Apart from the common butterflies I have sighted are Silver streaked blue ciliate, blue and redspot (M&F) here regularly and I haven’t seen these butterflies elsewhere. Some of other species to be mentioned are Buddha peacock, Short banded sailor, Chestnut steaked sailor, Blue admiral, Southern birdwing, and at least three types of lineblues, blackvein, sergeant, peacock royal, WC and Manytailed oakblue, White banded owl and a Common tinsel (to be confirmed). I will be posting a complete checklist soon; the most interesting thing is that I have seen fresh specimens of all the butterflies mentioned and hence could be assumed that they are born here. A ciliate blue sighting chance is 75% on anyday on the calendar. Between August and December I can guarantee the sighting of Blue admiral, WC oakblue, Buddha peacock and all the three sailors here are high.

But the most saddening part of the story is that as many of the hundreds of such hilltops in our district Palaparamba is also under threat an approach road is already constructed and surveying and markings are in progress to convert it into a housing project and within a couple of years the fauna and flora will be lost forever. In Kerala, majority of insects breed in such pristine locations which are basically private lands and were of no economical importance till a couple of years ago and they were safe to some extent due to that matter of fact that now laterite quarrying, housing projects, other institutions like hospitals, schools, colleges, IT parks are built in lieu of wonderful fauna and flora. There is considerable awareness and conservation on the part of wildlife in the forested lands but as far as I know there is nothing done to protect these uncared biodiversity. My question to the members from Kerala is how often you have sighted Ciliate blue, Redspot and Silver streak blue in the reserve forests? (Dr Unni, Dr Kalesh, Rafeek and others please respond) the answers will decide the importance of the matter. Not square kilometers but square meters that matter as far as butterflies are concerned. Can anyone help tracing the larva plant and hence larvae of the above mentioned butterflies?

Attached pictures are shots from a recent visit to Palaparamba.

Help ID the Line blue other butterfly links on my stream all from Palaparamba peacock royal com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 760342851/budha peacock com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1490190054/Imperial com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2552726909/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2552727017/manytailedoakblue com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1797804209/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1797794137/redspot com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1523117205/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1616548060/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 746904897/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 746904909/silverstreak blue com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 693955223/wcoakblue com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1690054061/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 693955247/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1467545259/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2043427250/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2181671183/commonleopard com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1672597594/blue admiral com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1025754644/lascar com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1050426385/yeomon and rustic com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 630223807/jezebel com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1797941929/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1797941921/birdwing com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 1345924306/

Some other insects sighted on June 22, 2008 com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2614605753/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2615431184/ hitlerbugsmating com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2614601629/ com/photos/ balakrishnan_ valappil/ 2614601851/

All these links are to demonstrate the biodiversity of Palaparamba


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Rajesh Sachdev

Wild Mumbai Nature Conservation


"The tiger cannot be preserved in isolation. It is at the apex of a

large and complex biotope. Its habitat, threatened by human intrusion,

commercial forestry, and cattle grazing, must first be made

inviolate." - Mrs. Indira Gandhi

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Napoleons Fatal Ruso Expedition

Charles Minard's Carte figurative (1869), which details the losses of men, the position of the army, and the freezing temperatures on Napoleon's disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia. Created in an effort to show the horrors of war, the graph "defies the pen of the historian in its brutal eloquence" and has been called the best statistical graphic ever drawn.

Photo In The News: Mars Lander Finds Ice, NASA Says

Fig: Ice on Mars - lander photo

Photo In The News: Mars Lander Finds
Ice, NASA Says

Associated Press, By John Antczak

June 20, 2008

Ice on Mars - lander photo

June 20, 2008—Before-and-after photos taken by NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander show "perfect evidence" of water ice on Mars, according to Peter Smith, the mission's principal investigator, in a statement released Thursday.

The dice-size crumbs of bright material seen in the bottom left corner of the so-called Snow White trench in the left image, taken June 15, appear to have vanished by the time the right image was taken, on June 19.

Scientists are convinced the material was frozen water that vaporized after the lander's robotic arm dug up the material.

"There had been some question whether the bright material was salt," Smith, of the University of Arizona, said. "Salt can't do that."

Phoenix is studying whether the Mars's arctic region could be suitable for life as we know it—a key ingredient of which is water.

More recently, Phoenix's arm encountered a hard surface on Thursday while digging another trench. The arm went into a "holding position" after three attempts to dig further, which is expected when the arm reaches a hard surface, NASA said.

Scientists, who hope to uncover an icy layer, have dubbed the newer trench Snow White 2, in keeping with the Phoenix team's practice of using names from fairy tales and mythology to designate features at the lander's "Wonderland" site.

In 2002 the Mars Odyssey orbiter had detected hints of a vast store of ice below the surface of Mars's polar regions.

The arctic terrain where Phoenix touched down has polygon shapes in the ground similar to those found in Earth's permafrost regions. The patterns on Earth are caused by seasonal expansion and shrinking of underground ice.

Images from AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oh, Barn The Superstition! It's Just A Harmless Owl

Oh, Barn The Superstition! It's Just A Harmless Owl

Daily News and Analysis, By Ashwin Aghor

June 21, 2008

Experts say though the bird is thriving in the city, it faces threat as it consumes rodents killed with poison

The next time you spot a pair of eyes glowing in the dark or hear a sinister hoot, don’t be alarmed. It’s just your friendly neighbourhood barn owl, which bird experts say is thriving in the city.

“If the number of distress calls received for bird rescue are any indication, there is no doubt that barn owl population in the city has increased. The majority of the calls are for the rescue of injured juvenile as well as adult barn owls,” said Adesh Shivkar, bird expert.

The large quantity of garbage generated in the city every day attracts rodents, which are the main prey of barn owls.

The bird got its name because of its adaptability to living close to human settlements. “Even in the United Kingdom, the bird is found in barns, abandoned castles,” Shivkar said. However, despite a consistent growth in its population, barn owl is facing severe threats.

Contradicting superstitions shroud all types of owls in general. Some people consider the bird a bad omen and kill it the moment it is spotted. “On the other hand, it is considered to be the vehicle of goddess Lakshmi. There is a need to educate people to protect the bird, by telling them that getting rid of the bird is akin to getting rid of wealth,” Shivkar says. “There is a general belief that barn owl claws bring prosperity to the person who possesses them. A considerable chunk of people in the city believe in superstitions,” said naturalist Sunjoy Monga.

Recently, in the Mantralaya when an owl was seen on a painting frame on sixth floor, news spread like wildfire and people started speculating about fate of the chief minister himself as his office is on the same floor.

Though domesticating the owl is illegal, many people keep the bird as a pet and even supply them to Bollywood and tantriks.

Another threat the bird is facing is rat poison. “Rodents being their main prey, many times owls eat rats killed with poison, which proves fatal for the bird, too,” said Anand Pendharkar, founder director of Sprouts, an institution working for the environment.

There is a great deal of misbelief about the hissing sound made by the barn owls. “It is the defence mechanism of most of the birds which nest in tree hollows or holes in walls. On sensing danger, the juvenile birds emulate the hissing sound of a snake,” Shivkar said.

The rescue calls for the bird are the maximum during winter, the breeding season of the owls. “In majority of cases, it lands in wrong hands due to superstitions,” said Sunish Subramanian of Plant and Animal Welfare Society, Mumbai.

From Yahoo Group HopeThane: Save Our Water Bodies!!!! Urgent!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Leo Saldanha To: Arunava Das by


Dear All,

Acting on the Public Interest Litigation filed by Environment Support
Group against Privatisation of Lakes in Bangalore (WP 817/2008), the
Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka has directed the Forest Department to
file a report on the status of lakes in Bangalore.

The petition challenges the Lake Development Authority's move of leasing
lakes to private entities, who will be exploiting the water bodies for
commercial activities like setting up of hotels, boating, amusement
parks and so on. Apart from destroying nesting grounds of birds (both
local and migratory) such activities will ruin the water bodies and also
impact the ecological cycle. It will also mean giving away our public
commons to private entities, who will make profits without any regard
for the resources.

If you endorse this idea, please sign the online representation to the
Principal Chief Conservations of Forests at
http://www.ipetitio blorelakes/ signatures. html


PS: More details about the PIL are accessible at

Blue Iguana (Direct pick up from Wikipedia, Taken with permission purely for blog display)

[Pictures of Cayman Islands(Iguana is endemic to this region) and Iguana]

Blue Iguana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blue Iguana

Conservation status

Critically Endangered (IUCN 3.1)

Scientific classification














C. lewisi

Binomial name

Cyclura lewisi
Grant, 1940

The Blue Iguana or Grand Cayman Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) is a critically endangered species of lizard of the genus Cyclura endemic to the island of Grand Cayman. Previously listed as a subspecies of the Cuban Iguana, it was reclassified as a separate species in 2004 due to genetic differences discovered four years earlier. The Blue Iguana is one of the longest-living species of lizard (possibly up to 69 years) and is a national symbol of the Cayman Islands.

The Blue Iguana prefers rocky, sunlit, open areas in dry forests or near the shore, as females must dig holes in the sand to lay eggs in June and July. Their vegetarian diet includes plants, fruits, and flowers. Their coloration is tan to gray with a bluish cast that is more pronounced during the breeding season, and more so in males. They are large and heavy-bodied with a dorsal crest of short spines running from the base of the neck to the end of the tail.

The fossil record indicates that the Blue Iguana was abundant before European colonization; but fewer than 15 animals remained in the wild by 2003, and this wild population was predicted to become extinct within the first decade of the 21st century. The species' decline is mainly being driven by predation by feral pets (cats and dogs) and indirectly by the destruction of their natural habitat as fruit farms are converted to pasture for cattle grazing. Since 2004, 219 captive-bred animals have been released into a preserve on Grand Cayman run by a partnership headed by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in an attempt to save the species. Some success with naturally laid eggs has been reported in the wild. At least five non-profit organizations are working with the government of the Cayman Islands to ensure the survival of the Blue Iguana.


The Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) is endemic to the island of Grand Gayman.[1] Its generic name (Cyclura) is derived from the Ancient Greek words cyclos (κύκλος) meaning "circular" and urus (ορος) meaning "tail", after the thick-ringed tail characteristic of all Cyclura iguanas.[2] Its specific name is a Latinized form of the name of the scientist who first described this species, Bernard C. Lewis.[3] Its closest relatives are the Cuban Iguana (C. nubila nubila) on Cuba, and the Andros Island Iguana (C. cychlura cychlura) in the Bahamas, the three species having diverged from a common ancestor some three million years ago.[1][4] The species has a low genetic diversity but does not seem to suffer the same lack of vitality that afflicts other such species of rock iguana.[5][6] One theory is that the species evolved from a single female Cuban Iguana (C. nubila nubila) with eggs inside her who drifted across the sea, perhaps during a storm.[4] It is distinct from the subspecies found on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac known as C. nubila caymanensis, although it can breed with this subspecies and produce fertile offspring.[7][8]

In 1938, Bernard C. Lewis of the Institute of Jamaica joined an Oxford University biological expedition to the Cayman Islands.[3] Lewis was able to obtain two Blue Iguanas, a male and a female, which were later lodged with the British Museum of Natural History.[3] Chapman Grant, in a monograph published in 1940,[9] formally described the Blue Iguana for the first time as Cyclura macleayi lewisi.[3][10][7][11] Schwartz and Carey established the trinomial (Cyclura nubila lewisi) in 1977.[7][11] They held that the Blue Iguana was a strongly distinct subspecies of the Cuban Iguana (C. nubila), the species which it evolved from and can breed with. They emphasized its overall bright blue coloration, and noted that further study could reveal it to be a distinct species.[7][11] Frederic Burton reclassified the Blue Iguana as a distinct species in 2004,[7] after years of research comparing scale counts on the heads of Caribbean iguanas, including those found on Little Cayman, Cayman Brac, Cuba, and the Bahamas, as well as mitochondrial DNA analysis performed by Dr. Catherine Malone, to re-examine the phylogeography of the different species.[7]


The Blue Iguana is the largest native land animal on Grand Cayman with a total nose-to-tail length of 5 ft (1.5 m) and weighing as much as 30 lb (14 kg).[12][13] Its body length is 20–30 inches (51–76 cm) with a tail equal in length.[14] The Blue Iguana's toes are articulated to be efficient in digging and climbing trees.[15] Although not known to be arboreal, the Blue Iguana has been observed climbing trees 15 feet (4.6 m) and higher.[14] The male is larger than the female by one third of his body size.[14] The mature male's skin color ranges from dark grey to turquoise blue, whereas the female is more olive green to pale blue.[14] Young animals tend to be uniformly dark brown or green with faint darker banding.[14] When they first emerge from the nest the neonates have an intricate pattern of eight dark dorsal chevrons from the crest of their necks to their pelvic area.[16] These markings fade by the time the animal is one year old, changing to mottled gray and cream and eventually giving way to blue as adults.[16] The adult Blue Iguana is typically dark gray matching the karst rock of its landscape.[16] The animal changes its color to blue when it is in the presence of other iguanas to signal and establish territory.[16] The blue color is more pronounced in males of the species.[16] Their distinctive black feet stand in contrast to their lighter overall body color.[14] Male Blue Iguanas have femoral pores, which are used to release pheromones.[15] Females lack these pores and have a less prominent dorsal crest, making the animal somewhat sexually dimorphic.[12][15]

Eyes and vision

The Blue Iguana's eyes have a golden iris and red sclera.[14] They have excellent vision, which allows them to detect shapes and motions at long distances.[17] As Blue Iguanas have only a few rod cells, they have poor vision in low-light conditions. At the same time, they have cells called "double cones" which give them sharp color vision and enable them to see ultraviolet wavelengths.[17] This ability is highly useful when basking so the animal can ensure that it absorbs enough sunlight in the forms of UVA and UVB to produce Vitamin D.[12]

Blue Iguanas have evolved a white photosensory organ on the top of their heads called the parietal eye (also known as the third eye, pineal eye or pineal gland).[17] This "eye" does not work the same way as a normal eye as it has only a rudimentary retina and lens and thus, cannot form images.[17] It is however sensitive to changes in light and dark and can detect movement.[17]

Distribution and habitat

The Blue Iguana is found only on the island of Grand Cayman. Comparison with other Cyclura species in the region strongly suggests that there was once a coastal population of Blue Iguanas which was gradually displaced or extirpated by human settlements and the construction of roads.[10] The Blue Iguana now only occurs inland in natural xerophytic shrubland and along the interfaces between farm clearings, roads, and gardens and closed-canopy dry forest or shrubland.[10][18] The interior population is believed to have been attracted to agricultural clearings and fruit farms which provide thermoregulatory opportunities, herbaceous browse, fallen fruit, and nesting soil, but this also brought the Blue Iguana into contact with humans and feral animals.[10] Females often migrate to coastal areas to nest.[19]

Blue Iguanas released into the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park on Grand Cayman were radiotracked in 2004 to determine ranges for each animal.[20] Females were found to occupy territories of 0.6 acres (0.24 ha) and males an average of 1.4 acres (0.57 ha) with overlap in common territories, indicating that they chose to maintain a population density of four to five animals per hectare.[20]

The Blue Iguanas occupy rock holes and tree cavities, and as adults are primarily terrestrial.[13] Younger individuals tend to be more arboreal.[13] Hatchlings are preyed upon by the native snake Alsophis cantherigerus.[18] The adults have no natural predators but can fall victim to feral dogs.[10][18] They typically reach sexual maturity at three to four years of age.[14]

Diet and longevity

Like all Cyclura species, the Blue Iguana is primarily herbivorous, consuming leaves, flowers, and fruits from over 45 species of plant.[10][18] This diet is very rarely supplemented with insect larvae, crabs, slugs, dead birds, and fungi.[14][18] The iguanas are presented with a special problem for osmoregulation: plant matter contains more potassium and as it has less nutritional content per gram, more must be eaten to meet the lizard's metabolic needs.[21] As they are not capable of creating urine more concentrated than their bodily fluids, they excrete nitrogenous wastes as uric acid salts through a salt gland in the same manner as birds.[21] As a result, they have developed this lateral nasal gland to supplement renal salt secretion by expelling excess potassium and sodium chloride.[21]

Longevity in the wild is unknown but is presumed to be many decades. A Blue Iguana named "Godzilla" captured on Grand Cayman in 1950 by naturalist Ira Thompson was imported to the United States in 1985 by Ramon Noegel and sold to reptile importer and breeder, Tom Crutchfield in 1990.[22] Crutchfield donated Godzilla to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas in 1997 and the lizard remained there until its death in 2004.[22][23] Thompson estimated Godzilla to be 15 years-of-age at the time of his capture.[23] At an estimated 69 years of age (54 of which were spent in captivity), Godzilla may be the world's longest-living lizard for which there is reliable record.[23] A closely related Lesser Caymans Iguana (C. nubila caymanensis) has been documented as living 33 years in captivity.[24]


Mating occurs from May through June.[10][14] Copulation is preceded by numerous head-bobs on the part of the male, who then circles around behind the female and grasps the nape of her neck.[14] He then attempts to restrain the female in order to maneuver his tail under hers to position himself for intromission.[14] Copulation generally lasts from 30 to 90 seconds, and a pair is rarely observed mating more than once or twice a day.[14] A clutch of anywhere from 1 to 21 eggs are usually laid in June or July depending on the size and age of the female, in nests excavated in pockets of earth exposed to the sun.[10][18][25] Several exploratory nests are begun before one is completed.[14] These burrows can range from 16 inches (0.41 m) to over 60 inches (1.5 m) in length, with an enlarged chamber at its terminal portion to allow the female to turn around.[14] The temperature within nests that have been monitored by researchers remained a constant 32 °C (90 °F) throughout the incubation period which ranges from 65–90 days.[14] The Blue Iguana's eggs are among the largest laid by any lizard.[14]

Individuals are aggressively territorial from the age of about three months onward.[18] Females occupy overlapping areas of the order of 0.6 acres (0.24 ha) seemingly regardless of age, while males occupy progressively larger and more extensively overlapping territories as they age and grow.[10]


Endangered status

The Blue Iguana is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.[10] The population is restricted to the eastern interior of Grand Cayman, where it had been reduced to a critically low level, only three animals having been observed before the survey in 1988.[3][10] The range of the Blue Iguana has contracted significantly over the past 25 years, with many sites once populated now showing no signs of iguanas.[3] Surveys in 2003 indicated a total population in the range of 5–15 individuals.[18] By 2005 the unmanaged wild population was considered to be functionally extinct.[26][27] The species is one of the most endangered animals on Earth.[6][28] A further blow to the dwindling population came in May of 2008 when six individuals were found butchered in a nature preserve.[29]

As the Blue Iguana consumes a variety of plant material, favoring fruits and flowers over leaves and stems when available, it is valuable on Grand Cayman as a seed disperser throughout its range.[10][18][30] A study in 2000 by Dr Allison Alberts revealed that seeds passing through the digestive tracts of Cycluras germinate more rapidly than those that do not.[30][31] These seeds in the fruits consumed by the Blue Iguana have an adaptive advantage by sprouting before the end of very short rainy seasons.[30] The Blue Iguana is also an important means of distributing seeds to new areas and, as the largest native herbivore of Grand Cayman's ecosystems, it is essential for maintaining the delicate balance between climate and vegetation necessary to survive under harsh conditions.[30]

Restored free-roaming subpopulations in the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and the Salina Reserve numbered approximately 125 individuals in total after a release in December 2005.[28] The restored subpopulation in the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park has been breeding since 2001, and the subpopulation in the Salina Reserve was deemed to be breeding in 2006 after a nest of three hatched eggs was discovered in the wild.[5][32] As of April 2007, after another large-scale release, there are 299 Blue Iguanas living in the wild, with hundreds more being raised in captivity on Grand Cayman.[26]

Causes of decline

Habitat destruction is the main factor threatening imminent extinction for this iguana. Land clearance within remnant habitat is occurring for agriculture, road construction, and real estate development and speculation.[26] Conversion of traditional crop lands to cattle pasture is also eliminating secondary Blue Iguana habitat.[10]

Predation and injury to hatchlings by rats, to hatchlings and sub-adults by feral cats, and killing of adults by roaming dogs are all placing severe pressure on the remaining wild population.[5][10] Automobiles and motorscooters are an increasing cause of mortality as the iguanas rarely survive the collisions. Trapping and shooting is a comparatively minor concern, but occasional trapping continues despite legal protection and sustained efforts to increase public awareness.[1][10][27]

The common Green Iguana, (Iguana iguana), has been introduced from Honduras and is well-established on Grand Cayman as an invasive species. It far outnumbers the endemic Blue Iguana.[33][34] No direct negative consequences of this introduction on the Blue Iguana are known, but the mere presence of the Green Iguana confuses public attitudes and understanding.[10][35] For example, the people of the island are told that Blue Iguanas are endangered and rare, and when they subsequently see large numbers of the introduced Green Iguana, they do not understand the difference.[8][35]

Blue Iguanas used to regularly be sold to tourists as pets, as their rarity made them appealing to exotic-animal collectors, despite this being illegal under the CITES treaty.[36] In 1999 a World Wildlife Fund international conservation officer, Stuart Chapman, said, "The British government has turned a blind eye for over 20 years to these overseas territories which are home to many rare and endangered species. Many of these face extinction if Britain fails to honour its treaty obligations. The British Caribbean islands are extremely rich in biodiversity with many critically endangered species that are unique to the islands—yet there is virtually zero enforcement or implementation of CITES."[36]

In May of 2008, six Blue Iguanas were found dead in the preserve within Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park on Grand Cayman.[37] The iguanas were apparently killed by human vandals armed with knives and two of the slaughtered animals were gravid females about to lay eggs.[37]

The wild population of Blue Iguanas had been reduced from a near island-wide distribution to a non-viable, fragmented remnant.[26][33] By 2001, no young hatched in the unmanaged wild population were surviving to breeding age, meaning the population was functionally extinct, with only five animals remaining in the wild.[26]

Recovery efforts

In 1990 the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) designated the genus Cyclura as their highest priority for conservation.[38] Their first project was an in situ captive breeding program for the Blue Iguana, which at the time was the most critically endangered of all the species of Cyclura.[38]

One of the early difficulties encountered was that the captive stock of the early 1990s was found not to be pure.[14][38] It was discovered through DNA analysis that the captive population contained a number of animals that were hybrids with C. nubila caymanensis.[14][38] The program contains only pure specimens, as these hybrids were sterilized by means of hemipenectomies and hence excluded.[13][18][38] This program was created to determine the exact genealogies of the limited gene pool of the remaining animals and DNA analysis revealed that the entire North American captive population was descended from a single pair of animals.[38] After five years of research two captive breeding populations were established and are managed as a single unit, with cross-breeding between the populations to promote genetic diversity.[38]

As a hedge against disaster striking the Blue Iguana population on Grand Cayman, an off-island captive population was established in 25 zoos in the USA.[18][38] A minimum of 20 founder lines represented by at least 225 individuals is being maintained by captive breeding and recorded in a studbook for the species by Tandora Grant of the San Diego Zoo's Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES).[18][20][38] The Indianapolis Zoo has had success with breeding the Blue Iguana in captivity twice since the year 2000.[39]

In October 2006, hatchlings were released into the wild for the first time to boost the species and help bring them back from the brink of extinction.[28] Each released Blue Iguana wears a string of colored beads through its nuchal crest for visual identification at a distance, backed up by an implanted microchip and a high-resolution photograph of its head scales.[15] (Head scale patterns are as unique among Blue Iguanas as fingerprints are among humans.)[15]

The Blue Iguana is established in captivity, both in public and private collections.[12] As there are very few pure-bred animals in private collections, private individuals have established these animals in captive breeding programs as hybrids with the Lesser Caymans Iguana (C.nubila caymanensis) and occasional hybrids with the Cuban Iguana (C.n.nubila) minimizing the demand for wild-caught specimens for the pet trade.[12]

Blue Iguana Recovery Programme

Efforts to save the Blue Iguana are being implemented as of 2007 by the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP) which, with local and international partners, operates under the auspices of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.[26] This program operates under a special exemption from provisions in the Animals Law of the Cayman Islands which normally would make it illegal for anyone to kill, capture, or keep iguanas.[18][35] BIRP's conservation strategy involves generating large numbers of genetically diverse hatchlings, head-starting[40] them for two years where their chance of survival in the wild is high, and using these animals to rebuild a series of wild sub-populations in protected, managed natural areas.[1][18][41] This is accompanied by field research, nest site protection, and monitoring of the released animals.[30][42][43] A rapid numerical increase from a maximum possible number of founding stock is sought to minimize loss of genetic diversity caused by the "population bottleneck".[18]

Restored sub-populations are already present in two non-contiguous areas—the Salina Reserve and the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.[13] Habitat protection is still vital,[18][26][13] as the Salina Reserve has only 88 acres (35.61 ha) of dry shrubland, which is not enough to sustain the 1,000 Blue Iguanas that must be restored to the wild to remove this species from the Critically Endangered List.[15][18] Additional separate sub-populations will be restored in one or more other areas.[18] The overall captive population is likely to remain genetically fragmented in the long term.[18] Individuals will be translocated between sub-populations to maintain gene flow so that the entire population remains a single genetic management unit.[18][38] When the wild sub-populations have reached the carrying capacity of their respective protected areas, release of head-started animals will be phased out, and they will be left to reproduce naturally.[18] In addition, guided by research and monitoring, control or eradication of non-native predators will be implemented to the degree necessary to allow young Blue Iguanas to survive to maturity in sufficient numbers to maintain these sub-populations.[18][38]

Maintenance of Blue Iguanas in the wild requires active management into the indefinite future.[18] To sustain this activity, a range of commercial activities generates the funding required, while an ongoing education and awareness effort ensures continued involvement and support by the local community.[18][26][35]


  1. ^ a b c d Kenyon, Georgina. "SOS call for ancient blue iguana", BBC News, 2005-05-23. Retrieved on 2008-03-16.
  2. ^ Sanchez, Alejandro. Family Iguanidae: Iguanas and Their Kin. Father Sanchez's Web Site of West Indian Natural History Diapsids I: Introduction; Lizards. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Blue Iguanas get helping hand to recovery", Cayman Net News, 2005-04-26. Retrieved on 2008-03-15.
  4. ^ a b Kenyon, Georgina (2005-09-17). "Re-enter the Dragon". New Scientist (2517): 42–43. Simone Coless.
  5. ^ a b c Hudson, Rick (2007-04-01). "Big Lizards, Big Problems". Reptiles Magazine 15 (4): 54–61.
  6. ^ a b Malone, Catherine (2004). Genetic Contributions to Caribbean Iguana Conservation. University of California Press, 54–57. ISBN 9780520238541.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Burton, Frederic (2004). "Taxonomic Status of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana" (PDF) 8 (1): 198–203. Caribbean Journal of Science.
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Categories: Critically endangered species | Iguanidae | Cyclura | Fauna of the Cayman Islands