San Salvador Iguana


donated by Herpetofauna


All iguanas of the genus Cyclura are in danger of extinction. Of most of the species and subspecies only a few dozen remain, making them undoubtedly among the most endangered animals on Earth.

At present, the San Salvador rock iguana (Cyclura rileyi) consists of a fragmented population on Guana Cay, an island of the Bahamas, estimated at less than 30 animals. Goals of this project is to set up a highly specialized breeding program, for which obtaining the complete genome of the species is crucial. With this information animals can be selected for breeding to build a strong population. In this way captive animals can be included in the breeding program as well. A breeding center is currently under construction that will ensure that animals can be bred and studied in peace. The obtained knowledge will play a very important role in the conservation projects of the other Cyclura species.

Another goal of the project is to prepare the habitat for the release of the bred animals. This is important since both human activity and the introduction of invasive species has left parts of the habitat unsuitable for these iguanas. Therefore, new vegetation is planted, and invasive animal species are removed. Herewith every possible effort is made to re-establish these iconic lizards as part of the biodiversity of the island.

All this obviously costs a lot of time and money. Luckily local politics has also embraced the species, which should certainly have a positive effect on the success of the project.