Cuban Khaki Trope (Tropidophis hendersoni)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 200523533
Ecology and conservation of threatened endemic Dwarf Boas of the genus Tropidophis in eastern Cuba (I)
Cuba is the center of diversification of the dwarf boas or tropes of the genus Tropidophis, with 17 species, half of the world’s species and all of them are endemic to this archipelago (Hedges 2002). They are small (usually to about 50 cm total length), nocturnal, constricting, viviparous snakes belonging to a very ancient family (Tropidophiidae). Some of them are among the most colorful West Indian snakes. They feed mostly on frogs and lizards, although some of the largest species such as the Giant Trope (Tropidophis melanurus, to over 100 cm total length), may feed on small rodents and birds as well (Henderson and Powell 2009). Several species are relatively common and have wide distributions on the Cuban Archipelago, whereas others are known only from a few localities and are very rare (Rodríguez et al. 2013). Such is the case of the Cuban Khaki Trope (Tropidophis hendersoni), reported from only two localities about 30 km apart on the northern coast of eastern Cuba and known only from seven individuals (Díaz et al. 2014). The Cuban Khaki Trope is one of the rarest reptiles in Cuba and as a consequence it was listed as Critically Endangered on the Red Book of Cuban Vertebrates (Rodríguez and Garrido 2012), although it was later reassessed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Fong 2021). Also, this entire snake family is included in Appendix II of CITES (https://cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php). Other trope species inhabiting the same region as the Cuban Khaki Trope are also very rare and were listed recently on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN 2021). Those species may be benefited from this project as well.
1. To make an intensive survey along the northern region of eastern Cuba to determine the distribution boundaries, population parameters and habitat requirements of the target species.
2. To identify new areas with potentially suitable habitat for the target species using GIS-based analyses.
3. To develop an awareness-raising campaign across the region inhabited by the target species to promote its conservation and that of its associated habitat.
1. Collection of ecological variables critical for the occurrence of the target species.
2. Update of the distribution of the target species and other trope species inhabiting the same region.
3. Identifification of all threats natural and anthropogenic affecting the target species.
4. Use of GIS technology to predict new areas with potentially suitable climatic conditions for the occurrence of the target species.
5. Design, printing and distribution of quality posters, brochures and color field guides to promote the knowledge and conservation of the target species and other endemic threatened snakes inhabiting the same region.
- Díaz, L.M., A. Cádiz, S. Villar, and F. Bermudez. 2014. Notes on the ecology and morphology of the Cuban Khaki Trope, Tropidophis hendersoni Hedges and Garrido (Squamata: Tropidophiidae), with a new locality record. Reptiles & Amphibians 21:116–119.
- Fong, A. 2021. Tropidophis hendersoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T178429A77339073. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-2.RLTS.T178429A77339073.en
- Hedges, S.B. 2002. Morphological variation and the definition of species in the snake genus Tropidophis (Serpentes: Tropidophiidae). Bulletin of the Natural History Museum, London (Zoology) 68: 83–90.
- Henderson, R.W. and R. Powell. 2009. Natural History of West Indian Amphibians and Reptiles. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
- IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). 2021. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. https://www.iucnredlist.org/.
- Rodríguez Schettino, L. and O.H. Garrido. 2012. Tropidophis hendersoni Hedges y Garrido, 2002, p. 176. In: H. González Alonso, L. Rodríguez Schettino, A. Rodríguez, C.A. Mancina, and I. Ramos García (Eds.), Libro Rojo de los Vertebrados de Cuba. Editorial Academia, La Habana.
- Rodríguez Schettino, L., C.A. Mancina, and V. Rivalta González. 2013. Reptiles of Cuba: Checklist and geographic distributions. Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service 144: 1–92.