Iguanas for Lunch

When an invasive iguana begins to take over the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, solve the problem by serving them up for lunch.

Imagine — two iguana species living on Grand Cayman Island. One is the invasive Green Iguana and one is the Endangered Blue Iguana, which is native to the island.

island conservation native blue iguana

The Native Blue Iguana on Grand Cayman Island. Credit: Pete Markham

The Green Iguana was originally introduced in the 1980’s via the pet trade. As often happens, escapees founded a new population on the island. At first, the Green Iguana was little more than a nuisance, but as the population grew, it slowly began to out-compete the native iguana species.

In an attempt to protect the native Blue Iguana from the invader, the government made a law that killing iguanas was illegal. The law failed to specify that this should only apply to the Blue Iguana, and so the Green Iguana population blossomed throughout the island.

A recent estimate places the population of Green Iguanas at about 152,000 that live on this 22-mile long and 8-mile wide island. Going unchecked, the population could continue to grow and reach about one million in the next couple of years.

island conservation green iguana

Invasive Green Iguana on Grand Cayman Island. Credit: goatling

People have come up with a new solution for curbing the population growth of this invasive species — eat them. This is a recent idea in the world of invasive species control. It has been used to try and keep populations of invasive species such as marine invertebrates and Lionfish in check and Caymanian leaders think this is the best solution, at least for now.

So, if you end up in Grand Cayman anytime soon, don’t be surprised to find the very same Green Iguana running around outside also on the menu at a local restaurant.

Featured photo: Caribbean Landscape. Credit: Andrew Hart
Read the full article at phillytrib.com

About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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