October 25, 2020

Room to roam for Blues

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The Blue Iguanas have now got double the room to roam- thanks to the purchase of a piece of privately owned land in the Salina Reserve.

The sale was made possible by willing land owners and an EU grant to the National Trust which was topped up by another grant from Maples FS.

They typically have large territories, so the missing piece of land is truly a boon to the Blues.

Habitat for Blues doubles in Salina Reserve

The Blue Iguanas are going to benefit from double the area of habitat in the Salina Reserve, thanks to a purchase of privately owned piece land.

The purchase was made possible by the National Trust’s European Union grant, supplemented by another grant made to the Trust by Maples FS.

Previously, the 23 acre are of land separated two ideal blue iguana habitats on the Salina Reserve, but the purchase means that an area of 40 acres and an area of around 20 acres can be joined up, which is great news for the blues because they love to roam and typically have large territories.

“The importance of this land goes beyond the direct conservation value of the 23 acres involved,” said Fred Burton, Director of the Blue Recovery Programme. “The purchase has unlocked a previously blocked fragment of habitat, which together with the new parcel now almost doubles the area of shrub-land available here for the Blue Iguanas to recolonise.”

A Blue Iguana

Although the Salina Reserve, owned by the National Trust, covers more than 600 acres in total, only a small percentage of this is suitable as Blue Iguana Habitat, Mr. Burton explained.

“Its no use protecting small areas and expecting Iguanas to stay inside those areas They are very mobile and have large territories, so basically if your going to protect these animals you need a big chunk of land that’s
all protected.

The total blue iguana population is around 650, which is presently spread around three different areas.

“357 is the number of Blue Iguanas released into the Salina Reserve. They’re breeding so the numbers are hopefully on the increase,” he said.

The other big habitat for the Blues is the Colliers Wilderness Reserve, which represents around 190 acres – but some of that land is not ideal Iguana habitat, Mr. Burton said.

Fred Burton

“My gut feeling is we’ll end up with 500 iguanas in the Salina Reserve and 500 in the Colliers reserve, which will mean we can reach our target of 1000.” That target was set when the Blue Iguana Recovery Project began in the early 1990s.

The third area for the blues is the Botanic Park which covers about 65 acres. “Most of that land not suitable habitat but is a good source of babies- its been our egg factory.” Mr Burton went on to explain that iguanas that are bred in the Botanic Park are used to populate the other protected areas, such as the Salina reserve

The European Union grant to the National Trust is part of a project entitled “Management of Protected Areas to Support Sustainable Economies,” and includes some funds for land purchase for Blue Iguana habitat, in addition to development of nature tourism and education infrastructure and programmes in the new Colliers Wilderness Reserve, which is also becoming a key home to the Blue Iguanas.

FACT FILE

  • They can grow to a length of 20 – 35 inches including tail
  • They eat fruits, flowers, mushrooms, leaves etc
  • Can survive for decades with highest life span recorded at 69 years
  • They prefer to stay in rock holes and tree tops
  • Females lay between 1 – 24 eggs in the months of June or July

 

 

 

 

 

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