September 20, 2023

Cayman Islands largest Brac Rock Iguana killed by car

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I was so sad to hear on Friday that ‘S’, the largest known endangered Brac Rock Iguana in the Cayman Islands was run over and killed by a car on Cayman Brac.

It is a big loss for the Brac Iguana Preservation programme.

S, named for Sarah Kindschuh, a volunteer from New Mexico, was tagged and released on the 20 January, 2012 and weighed 20lbs.

Although there are many signs posted along the Cayman Brac roads warning motorists to watch their speed when they enter iguana habitat zones, as iguanas have a habit of basking in the sun on roads, the signs are ignored.

It was only in April a speeding car killed another Brac Rock Iguana that was pregnant.

The Brac Rock Iguana is a subspecies of the Cuban Iguana. It was interbred with Grand Cayman’s Blue Iguana.

According to Wikipedia:

“Zoologists Thomas Barbour and Gladwyn Kingsley Noble first described the Lesser Caymans Iguana as a species in 1916. Chapman Grant, in a monograph published in 1940, formally described the Lesser Caymans Iguana for the first time as a subspecies: Cyclura macleayi caymanensis.

“In 1975 Albert Schwartz and Thomas established the trinomial nomenclature, Cyclura nubila caymanensis for the Lesser Cayman Iguana. They maintained that this lizard was a subspecies of Cyclura nubila nubila commonly known as the Cuban Rock Iguana(the species from which it evolved and can breed with if placed together under artificial conditions).

“Mating occurs in April to May depending when the dry season ends, and 7-25 eggs are usually laid in May or June depending on the size and age of the female. Due to being forced to dwell inland where the soil is rocky, the females often have to migrate to coastal areas in order to build their nests in the sand. The hatchlings emerge from the nests in August to early September.

The Lesser Caymans Iguana is critically endangered according to the current IUCN Red List. The subspecies is vital to its native ecosystem as a seed disperser for native vegetation, and its extinction could have serious consequences as many of Little Cayman’s and Cayman Brac’s plants are not found elsewhere.

Causes of decline

Habitat destruction is the main factor threatening the future of this iguana.The   iguanas nest in the sand of beaches that are a prime real-estate location on Little Cayman.

Predation and injury to hatchlings by rats, to hatchlings and sub-adults by semi-domestic and feral cats, and killing of adults by roaming dogs are all placing severe pressure on the remaining wild population on both islands.

Sister Island iguanas are all too frequently killed by vehicles.

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