The iguana man: saving the reptilian kings of the Bahamas
by Jeremy Hance
Before the arrival of humans—with their dogs, cats, and wild pigs—the northern Bahamian rock iguana ruled its home range, being pound-for-pound among the biggest land animals on the islands. In these ecosystems, the iguana’s were the mega-grazers, the bison and elk of the Caribbean one might say. But hunting by humans, invasive species, and habitat loss knocked the king from its throne: pushing it into smaller habitats and decimating its population. Today the three subspecies of the northern Bahamian rock iguana (Cyclura cychlura) hang by a thread. And now a new threat is rising: poorly-regulated tourism, including iguana feeding.
Lucky for the iguanas they have a champion: Chuck Knapp with Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium has spent nearly 20 years working with iguanas in the Bahamas, including conservation efforts, research, and education. Knapp is also the co-chair on the IUCN iguana specialist group…