TCI News

New ‘Alien’ invasion threatens TCI Rock Iguanas

#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 4, 2020 — Green iguanas (pictured above left) do not belong in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Outside of their native range, they can breed quickly and can reach plague proportions if left unchecked. They can cause impacts to landscaping, infrastructure and will threaten the Turks & Caicos rock iguanas – which are only found in Turks & Caicos and are an important tourist attraction therefore important for the economy. Over in the Cayman Islands, the Cayman Islands Government are struggling with the pressure of over a million green iguanas and has had to recently launch a program costing over £8.6 million to control them.


Green iguanas are not currently believed to be established in the Turks & Caicos Islands, however, worryingly three sightings of green iguanas were confirmed in November 2019: two on Providenciales and one on Grand Turk. It is urgent that the likelihood of future arrivals of green iguanas is reduced, and when they do arrive that the Government is able to respond quickly.

As well as alien species arriving in Providenciales, they are also spreading – and the last remaining places supporting the native rock iguana are under threat. In the past couple of months, mice have reappeared on Big Ambergris Cay – this being the fourth invasion of rodents in the last 2.5 years, and rats have re-invaded Pine Cay, despite efforts costing in excess of $500,000 to fully remove rats to protect the iguanas.

Rodent invaders, photo by TC Natl Trust

For the Turks & Caicos Islands to be able to fight the tide of alien invasions, to protect its natural assets and to ensure the islands remain beautiful by nature, the Government needs to have effective measures and appropriate resources in place. These are clearly currently inadequate to meet the challenge.


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