By Carol Winker, email@example.com
Thursday 8th February, 2007 Posted:
16:17 CIT (21:17 GMT
It’s a pretty safe bet HRH Earl of Wessex Prince Edward
will return to his homeland with a bit more Iguana savvy.
He got his education in a perfectly Caymanian way while he
visited here last week – on a roadside in East End.
It was there the Earl met the people involved in the Cayman
Islands Blue Iguana Recovery Programme.
Programme Director Fred Burton said the Prince was surprised
his meeting with the group was along the roadside; the departure point for three students to hike into the Salina Reserve
and release three young iguanas in honour of the prince’s visit.
But before the trek in the bush, the Prince had some questions
for the youngsters.
He asked about the coloured beads on each animal’s
Mr. Burton said these were for visual identification at a
distance, backed up by microchips implanted in every Blue Iguana that passes through the programme and high–resolution
photographs of their head scales. The scales are unique to each animal as fingerprints are to people.
Adult iguana, Pedro, then caught the Prince’s eye.
Mr. Burton said he had the impression the Prince was surprised
that Pedro is so immobile. Pedro has a congenital and incurable eye problem, which means he cannot see well, which means the
animal can safely be taken to such an event as meeting a Prince.
Mr. Burton told the Prince the programme has seen remarkable
success in recent years, breeding at its facilities at the Botanic Park into and releasing over 200 young iguanas the Salina
Reserve. But the programme will grind to a halt soon unless additional dry shrubland, the iguana’s habitat, comes under
For all its 625 acres, the Salina Reserve has only 88 acres
of dry shrubland and that is nowhere near space enough for the 1,000 Blues that must be restored to the wild to get this species
off the Critically Endangered List.
Mr. Burton said the Prince took that on board and observed
that while he perhaps wasn’t in the best position to do anything about that, he understood how important it was and
imagined that others present saw this too.
The Prince then asked the three girls how they were involved
in the programme.
Gloria Borden, Melissa Smith and Chantal Pearson said they
had raised funds for iguana sponsorships and releases over the last three years. They also talked about a new poster John
Gray High School Recyclers are producing with funds from CUC to show the differences between Common (Green) Iguanas and Blue
The Prince was shown the release location in the Reserve
on the maps. He was also shown an example of the wooden retreats that the iguanas would be released into, and how these work
to encourage the iguanas to set up territories within the protected areas where they are safe.
One of the young iguanas started to wriggle out of its bag,
Mr. Burton related, so as he assisted in securing it he was able to show the entire animal to the Prince and also to Mrs.
Susan Olde, a member of the touring party who was particularly interested.
Finally the Prince was drawn back to Pedro, who suddenly
got bored with standing still and tried to climb up on Chris Carr, the Iguana Warden that had been holding him.
Mr. Burton said they took the opportunity to show the Prince
the unusual ways the Blue Iguana toes are articulated to be efficient in digging and climbing trees, and to show him the femoral
pores on the male’s thigh, which are used to release pheromones, and which are useful for people to tell the males from
“By this time the Prince’s scheduled 10 minutes
had extended to something closer to 20, so he warmly wished us luck and ongoing success, and the party went on their way,”
Mr. Burton said.