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GRANT, T. D. & HUDSON, R. D. (2014)

West Indian iguana Cyclura spp. reintroduction and recovery programmes: zoo support and involvement.

International Zoo Yearbook 49: 49-55.

Abstract:

Many West Indian rock iguanas Cyclura spp comprise small restricted island populations that are threatened by habitat conversion and degradation, free-ranging domestic animals and invasive species. In the 1980s, concerted conservation efforts were initiated for Caribbean iguanas, using a combination of captive-breeding programmes and head-starting of wild-collected hatchlings for reintroduction, and habitat protection. Zoological facilities have been involved in the conservation efforts from the start, providing expertise, resources and extensive funding for various aspects of the conservation programmes, and by providing space to house ex situ groups of iguanas as assurance populations. Health assessments of wild and captive iguanas, and databases related to the biology and health of the species have benefited not only the wild populations but also those being bred and maintained in captivity. Data compilation and analysis through the use of population-management software have made it possible to manage the genetic diversity of the individuals being captive bred for release. The involvement of zoological facilities has been fundamental to the efforts that have gone into bringing the Grand Cayman blue iguana Cyclura lewisi and the Jamaican iguana Cyclura collei back from the brink of extinction. A review of the conservation efforts for West Indian iguanas, including the role played by zoos, is presented.

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