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Iguana Sanctuary in Reptile-phobic Haiti

 

Noted with interest, from Eco-Index® blog in 2013. No recent information available about whether this iguana preserve has worked out. There are several problems . . .

Habitat degradation is common in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and a nation that’s been nearly completely deforested.  What little forestland that remains continues to be cut down for charcoal, the country’s primary source of energy.  According to [Massani] Accimé, after an access road to Anse-a-Pitres was built in 2011, charcoal production became a significant source of income for local residents, who also hunt Ricord’s iguanas for their meat and eggs. Cyclura species only reproduce once a year by laying 14-20 eggs in one nest, so egg poaching has a devastating effect on the population.

Hispaniola

“People in Anse-a-Pitres don’t have a wildlife conservation ethos. They just don’t see animals that way. To make matters worse, there’s also a fair amount of herpetophobia in Haiti,” Accimé explains. “A lot of our work involves trying to foster a different attitude and making people aware of the role of these animals in their environment.”

Iguanas can help sustain plant diversity because their turds help nourish valuable seeds:

Eggs

As the largest endemic herbivore on Hispaniola, Ricord’s are of great ecological importance to the region. They play a vital role in dispersing plant seeds—in fact, an IUCN study found that seeds that had passed through the alimentary tract of rock iguanas ended up growing more quickly and into bigger mature plants than seeds that had not.

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