St Lucia iguana under threat

CASTRIES – St Lucia says it is taking “decisive steps” to quell the upsurge of the invasive iguana population on the island.

“The issue of hybridisation of St Lucia’s endemic iguana has been brought to the forefront by the discovery of a pregnant green invasive species of iguana in Vieux Fort,” south of here, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“This iguana belongs to a genetic group similar to the endemic St Lucia iguana, which is known to have unique bodily features including black dewlap. The invasive green iguana, on the hand, carries a greyish, orange dewlap.”

The statement said that while the species is thought to be a descendant of an escaped, smuggled pet, the recent discovery of the pregnant species indicates that alien invasive species threats have rapidly escalated in recent years.

“In this case, the invasive green iguana reproduces more quickly than the endemic St Lucia iguana, putting the native at risk of being outnumbered in the wild.”

The Ministry said that despite being classified as invasive, non-native species are protected by the Wildlife Protection Act established in 1980 and should not be harmed, but urged people to be on the lookout for these species and report any sightings of the green invasive species to the Department of Forestry. (CMC)

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