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Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's herpetology team is celebrating the hatching of eleven Lesser Antillean iguanas. This is a huge milestone in our captive breeding efforts of this critically endangered species. Matt Goetz, Durrell's Head of Herpetology says: "This year's youngsters are the offspring of an adult pair that hatched at Durrell in 2011. It’s the first breeding success of a second generation in captivity. This proves to us that we have reared the previous offspring in the best possible conditions. The expertise of our keepers and the food plants grown especially for them at Durrell’s organic farm has undoubtedly contributed to this success.”
The Lesser Antillean iguana is found only on a few islands in the Caribbean. It’s highly threatened by invasive predators, road traffic, and most notably, by the closely related common green iguana.
Green iguanas are spreading to many Caribbean islands, either as runaway pets or as shipment stowaways. They are a non-native species and are now crossbreeding with the endemic Antillean iguana. Eventually this could lead to the extinction of the Lesser Antillean iguana; this has indeed already happened on a number of islands.
Matt adds, “we are still the only zoological institution that has managed to breed the species. The hatching of eleven youngsters is very encouraging. The youngsters will be sent to zoos around Europe, which we hope will promote and support the urgent conservation work for this species in the Caribbean."
Durrell is actively supporting and collaborating with local governments and NGOs to safeguard the last remaining populations of this species on offshore islets free of invasive green iguanas and predators.