ST. EUSTATIUS–St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation Stenapa has been active in conserving the endangered Lesser Antillean iguana on Statia.
Stenapa and Reptiles Amphibians Fish Research in the Netherlands RAVON have monitored, tagged and counted the population of Statia’s local iguana since 2015. All the information collected will be input for a recovery plan of the Lesser Antillean iguana’s population.
More than 340 of Statia’s local iguanas have been beaded with a unique bead code over the past two years. Of these, more than 140 have been tagged with an electronic chip. The combination of bead code, electronic chip and GPS coordinate ensure that each iguana is individually recognized and its location recorded.
Biologist Tim van Wagensveld, contracted by Stenapa and funded by the European Union’s BEST Fund, undertook a population assessment across specific survey areas with assistance of National Park Ranger Rupnor Redan.
“The results will give a realistic estimate of the population of Lesser Antillean iguanas living on Statia. These will be analysed and published in a final report,” said Director of National Parks and Acting Terrestrial Parks Manager Clarisse Buma.
All collected data will inform and strengthen Stenapa’s conservation efforts to protect Statia’s local iguana.
The Lesser Antillean iguana is now found only on a few islands, including Statia, St. Barths and Dominica, and a re-introduced population on Prickly Pear East, Anguilla.
Stenapa works alongside Anguilla National Trust and St. Barths Terrestrial Environment Agency for the BEST project in protecting the Lesser Antillean iguana. The cross-border collaboration is to increase the knowledge and expertise on conservation efforts.
Many other partners have assisted in the project on Statia over the past year, including seven interns, biologist Thijs van den Burg, Hannah Madden of Ecological Professionals, and veterinarian Sharon Veira.
Conserving the Lesser Antillean iguana is deemed important to the environmental future of Statia. The iguana is a keystone species that spreads seeds across the island, and, therefore, increases vegetation density and promotes variety.
Lots of trees and shrubs reduce soil erosion, provide a habitat and a food source for humans and animals alike.
Statia’s local iguana is under threat from the invasion of the green iguana. Eradication of this species from Statia still remains Stenapa’s main concern with efforts still ongoing to search for and remove it from the island. The general public is urged to report any sighting of an iguana with black bands on the tail to Stenapa at tel. 318-2884.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/68206-national-parks-on-track-with-iguana-conservation