Endangered Rock Iguanas on Sister Islands Face Increased Threat from Road Kills & Speeding Drivers

Little Cayman, a small island in the Cayman Islands, experienced another tragic loss last week with the death of a pregnant rock iguana, reigniting concerns for the survival of the endangered species on the Sister Islands. The iguana’s death marked the ninth casualty this year on Little Cayman roads, a troubling trend with six fatalities occurring just in April.

According to reports, 26 iguanas were fatally struck by vehicles in Little Cayman last year, with an additional 18 casualties recorded on Cayman Brac. These numbers may be higher as some road kills could go unnoticed or be scavenged before being documented. The impact of these road kills is particularly devastating during the iguana’s mating and hatching seasons when they are more active on the roads.

One witness, Owen Foster, shared his heartbreaking experience of encountering the injured iguana on the road in Blossom Village. Despite efforts to save the animal, the iguana succumbed to its injuries. Foster emphasized the need for drivers to show more respect and caution towards the dwindling iguana population.

Bodden, a Department of Environment Terrestrial Research Officer, emphasized the vulnerability of rock iguanas during their breeding and nesting seasons, stating that road kills pose a significant threat to the population. The population dynamics are further strained by the loss of breeding age adult iguanas, leading to a disproportionate impact on the overall population.

Efforts to mitigate road kills include installing signage in high-risk areas and collaborating with law enforcement to enforce driving laws. Nonetheless, road kills persist, posing a threat to the survival of the rock iguana population. Bodden urged drivers to be vigilant and considerate of iguanas on the roads, especially during breeding and hatching seasons.

All rock iguanas are protected species under the National Conservation Act, making it illegal to purposefully harm them. The community was encouraged to report any incidents involving rock iguanas on the Sister Islands to local authorities. Additionally, residents and visitors were advised to drive carefully and be mindful of iguanas basking on or near roads to prevent further casualties.

In conclusion, the ongoing road kills underscore the urgent need for increased awareness and conservation efforts to protect the endangered rock iguanas on the Sister Islands. The collaborative efforts of the community, authorities, and visitors are crucial in preserving these iconic species for future generations.