Record Details

Vogel, Peter;Nelson, Richard;Kerr, Rhema
Conservation strategy for the Jamaican iguana, Cyclura collei
Contributions to West Indian Herpetology. A Tribute to Albert Schwartz
1996
Book Section
Robert Powell and Robert W Henderson
Contributions to Herpetology
12
395-406
Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Ithaca, New York
Cyclura collei;population density;conservation
The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) seems to have declined dramatically during the second half of the last century, perhaps because of the introduction of the mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus), changing land use patterns, and human population growth. At the beginning of the present century, the species was thought to survive only on the Goat Islands, two small keys off the coast of the Hellshire Hills. Many biologists believed the iguana to be extinct after the population on the Goat Islands disappeared in the 1940s. However, the species' survival was confirmed in 1970 and again in 1990 in the Hellshire Hills. A preliminary survey in 1990 revealed a small population in the least disturbed central and western sections of the Hills, as well as two nesting sites. The iguanas disappeared from the northern and eastern sections because of extensive charcoal production, pig hunters using dogs, and human encroachment. Iguanas rapidly vanish from the forested areas. Exotic predators, including mongooses, cats, and stray dogs, prey on iguanas. Development interests propose large-scale limestone mining and human settlements in the entire eastern half of the area in which the iguanas live. Current field efforts concentrate on emergency conservation measures. Traditional forest users are directed away from the iguana population, stray dogs are removed, and both nesting females and emerging hatchlings are protected from predation. A comprehensive program to conserve C. collei and its habitat is unfolding. More than 100 hatchlings have been caught in the field from 1991 to 1994. They will be used for captive propagation, and for repatriation into the wild. Mongooses will be controlled in juvenile habitats. The Jamaican Conservation Authorities are preparing a submission to the Jamaican Government recommending the declaration of the Hellshire Hills as a protected area. A management scheme is being developed which foresees sustainable forest use in buffer zones implemented through close collaboration among conservationists, traditional forest users, and other interest groups along the boundaries of the Hellshire Hills.