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Urgent Help Needed!

Discussion in 'Green Iguanas' started by Dominick, Sep 14, 2004.

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  1. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Hi Folks-

    While I always recommend everyone visit and join the International Iguana Society for all the good works they do in iguana conservation, this plea is FAR more serious!

    The MOST endangered iguana in the world today is the Grand Caymen Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi). This is a magnificent iguana but there are estimated to be about 10 surviving in the wild. The IIS in conjunction with the other iguana organizations and zoos has worked very hard to "head-start" the lewisi population. They have hatched upwards of 70 eggs (bringing the head-start total near 200 young ones!) and just last month assembled a team of volunteers (Team Blue) to repair and build new cages for the hatchlings. Everything was looking up.....until IVAN came to the island.

    I am receiving almost hourly e-mail updates and the outlook is just heart-breaking.

    Here is an excerpt from the latest e-mail:

    "So far, we have not been able to contact Fred Burton or gather any specific information regarding the state of the Botanic Park and the captive Blue Iguana population. What little information we do have is grim and comes from the Cayman NetNews and various wire service reports: the eye of the category 5 hurricane passed just south of Grand Cayman as all three islands (including Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) were lashed by 150 mph winds and heavy rains through Sunday, with the downpour continuing through Monday night. Parts of low-lying Grand Cayman were swamped under up to 8 feet of water. The island’s National Hurricane Committee is reporting that an estimated one-quarter to one half of the 15,000 homes on the island have suffered some damage. Trees up to three stories tall were uprooted by the wind, the airport runway was flooded and windows shattered in the control tower. Communications and electricity have yet to be restored, however, cell phone service is now functioning sporadically.

    Delta Airlines canceled its flight last night and John and Sandy have rebooked for this evening, although it is possible that nothing but emergency relief flights will be allowed to land on Grand Cayman for the moment. John is already considering alternatives to commercial flights.

    At one point yesterday, Grand Cayman was submerged in a 15- to 20-foot tidal surge. Damage to the Blue iguana facility is a given; the elevation of the cement pens is a few feet at the highest point. The new cages built at the beginning of August are unlikely to have fared well.

    News bulletins will continue to be posted on the Blue Iguana website as they arrive.

    We are grateful for the donation for relief support beginning to come in. We urge each of you to share information with your friends and colleagues on how to provide assistance to the Blue Iguanas in this time of desperate need.

    The easiest way to make donations, which will be immediately available to help with the relief effort on Cayman, is to direct people to the new Blue iguana website (, to the section marked “You Can Help”. The “Donations In Kind” option allows individuals to donate any amount. Donors may also send checks made out to the International Reptile Conservation Foundation (IRCF), with a notation designating funds for Blue Iguana relief, and send these to 3010 Magnum Drive, San Jose CA, 95135.

    For those interested in volunteering to assist in cleanup and repair efforts at the Blue Iguana facility, please contact AJ Gutman via email: and ‘cc’ John Binns at: Please identify telephone contact information, number of people available and dates of availability. Be advised conditions there will be difficult."

    I would ask any of you who are able to make a donation or volunteer to help to do so at this very critical time. It's possible we may lose the entire species from this natural disaster!

    For those unfamiliar with the Grand Caymen Blue Iguana, here's a picture of one I had the privilege of handling while visiting with John Binns (pictured with me) earlier this year. They are truly a magnificent species of iguana and need our help and support right now.

    Please, do whatever you can to help us save this iguana species.

    Visit the site and read the latest news at:

    To see more Blue Iguana photos from the last trip click here: Blues/
  2. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    We'll send what we can Dom. KJ already has decided to lay down his lawn cutting money to help and I promised him I'd double what he sends. It will be on the way within a week
  3. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Thank you Ken!

    Here's the latest....some good news after all that worrying!

    We have heard from Fred and he and the hatchlings are fine! Apparently Fred was able to get through to Doug Bell in the UK at 5 AM this morning and report that there has been little damage to his house other than that caused by the flooding. The power and phone lines are still out and, as of yet; the Botanic Park is not accessible due to blocked and flooded roadways. Fred, Matt and Nick (the latter two were on Cayman to assist with the September releases), are considering alternate methods of reaching the Park.

    Reports in the Times (London) provide conflicting information on the number of casualties and the amount of damage, ranging form 48 dead and 4,000 homeless to no confirmed reports of casualties. What can be said definitively is that the airport remains closed, harbors remain inaccessible, electricity and water are down, and phone service is still sporadic.

    Our job continues to be to hope and pray for the best and spread word of the disaster so that we can track down as much support for the relief effort as possible.

  4. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Oh Dom, my heart almost broke with your initial post :-(
    I'm so glad the hatchlings came through ok, what a tragedy it would have been if all that hard work was in vain. I truely hope that the species is helped by these wonderful efforts,. I wish we weren't so far away or I would be the first to help with clean-up and help repair.

    How's the miserable population on the island? So sad..

    Very generous Ken,. some money is winging its way to me in a week or so - some money will then be winging its way to this worthy cause. Along with my modest but heartfelt thoughts and prayers.
  5. Inphormatika

    Inphormatika Elite Member

    I'm so glad that the hatchlings came through. I've got my little bit on its way there right now.
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