2,094Grants to

1,371(Sub)Species

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 1005800

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 1005800) - Ricord Iguana - Awarded $4,650 on March 30, 2010

Recognized as the most endangered group of lizards in the world, the West Indian rock iguanas of the genus Cyclura are at a critical juncture in their history and their conservation status has received considerable attention in recent years. Five of the nine species are ranked as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List and are in immediate need of intensive conservation intervention.  The Ricord's Iguana (Cyclura ricordi) is a very fragile species Red-listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. The species is endemic to the island of Hispaniola, where it has a very limited and fragmented distribution in the south central part of the island in both the Dominican Republic and Republic of Haiti.  In Haiti, the species was thought to be extinct until 2007, after much investigation fruitfully yielded a small strip of beach where a few Ricords nests were discovered in Anse-a-Pitres, a town located adjacent to the Haitian-Dominican border (see map below).  The total range of occurrence of the species is under 100 km² on the island. The population is estimated to be 2000 to 4000 adult animals and is rapidly declining, and in Haiti the population is estimated to be <100 adult animals.


Ricords Iguanas lives sympatrically with the Rhinoceros Iguana (Cyclura cornuta), which is still widely distributed throughout Hispaniola, including some of its offshore islands. Hispaniola is the only island with two Cyclura species and therefore constitutes a special challenge regarding conservation. C. cornuta is considered Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List.  However, with Haiti having unparalleled ecological destruction, the presence of the Rhinoceros Iguanas in Haiti is likely more scarce.  Major threats are habitat destruction and fragmentation due to agricultural activities and charcoal production, as well as hunting and nest poaching for human consumption. The status of these two species in Haiti calls serious attention to the plight of the wildlife and ecology of Haiti. Working locally in Anse-a-Pitres, and building a foundation for iguana conservation education presents an opportunity to help preserve the species and their rare habitat, and this can contribute to the betterment of the community.

The International Iguana Foundation (IIF) has been the core support for C. ricordi conservation on the island of Hispaniola in the southwestern Dominican Republic and southeastern Haiti.  The IIF is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization registered in the state of Texas and based at the Fort Worth Zoo.  The Executive Director Rick Hudson manages a Board of 14 well-respected conservation professionals.  Best known for their work to save the critically endangered Jamaican, Grand Cayman Blue and Anegada Iguanas, the IIF works to restore flagship species and their habitats through field research, science-based conservation actions, and local support to iguana recovery programs. A major collaborator in the education program will be Grupo Jaragua, leading Dominican non-profit wildlife conservation organization, with 20 years of experience in wildlife and environmental conservation (www.grupojaragua.org.do).  They have a well-established education program, which has been incorporated into the education system throughout the Dominican Republic.

The project benefits this local Haitian community in numerous ways.  The local government of Anse-a-Pitres is a high priority stakeholder who will benefit from the knowledge of habitat conservation, especially when making decisions on issues such as land tenure and ecoutourism.  Mobilization of local NGO will assure a community-instituted approach, which is more likely to be accepted by the residents of Anse-a-Pitres. The local Haitian organization KOSRA (Konsèy Sitwayen Reyini Ansapit) was logistically involved in the initial investigations since 2005, which led to the recent discovery of the species in Anse-a-Pitres in 2007.  KOSRA has several teachers as part of its leadership, and which is an invaluable long-term resource.  The very dynamic local youth organization OJAA (Oganizasyon Jenès Aktif Ansapit) is very locally active and is at the forefront of local wildlife and environmental protection.  They will assist in executing local, community-wide awareness activities. 

 

 



Project 1005800 location - Haiti, North America