Jamaican rock iguana (Cyclura collei)

The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) is a large species of lizard of the genus Cyclura endemic to Jamaica. It is the largest native land animal in the country, and is critically endangered, even considered extinct between 1948-1990. Once found throughout Jamaica and on the offshore islets Great Goat Island and Little Goat Island, it is now confined to the forests of the Hellshire hills.

According to Sloane (1725), who visited the island in 1688, iguanas were once common in Jamaica although their distribution seems to have been restricted to the drier sections of the south coast. The Jamaican Iguana declined dramatically during the second half of the 19th century, probably due to the introduction of the Indian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus [=auropunctatus]) in 1872, changing land use patterns, and human population growth.  Today, the iguana survives only in the Hellshire Hills, a rugged limestone area with suitable habitat totalling 114 km². However, extensive surveying has shown that iguanas are only found near the central core area that is protected from mongoose (<10 km²). Despite the proximity to Jamaica’s densely populated capital Kingston, the Hellshire Hills persist as a wilderness area because of its ruggedness and lack of surface water, making the area unsuitable for agriculture and large-scale settlement. The species was recorded to occur from sea level up to 200 m.

Jamaican rock iguana (Cyclura collei)
Population size:
< 10km2 core area in Hellshire Hills, Jamaica
Primary threats:
Predation by introduced species and habitat destruction
Action required:
Translocation to predator-free islands and control of deforestation

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