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Story by Tor Pinney                                                                                                                                        Back to List of Tor's Tales

                  

 

Wanna' Iguana?
2014 Tor Pinney - All Rights Reserved

There's a beach full of them in the Exumas!
 

 

The outlying Bahamaian islands of the Allens Cay group offer a pristine, almost landlocked anchorage and waypoint for yachts moving between the Exumas and points west and north. One of these small islands, Leaf Cay, is also the last refuge of the endangered Allens Cay Rock Iguanas (cyclura cychlura inornata). With no natural predators and legal protection from human predation according to Bahamian and international law, these reptilian residents are entirely unafraid, willing to pose for close-up photographs with hardly a blink. A weathered sign warns visitors not to feed them, but many do - and occasionally get a finger nipped for their trouble.

 click photos to enlarge

       

Otherwise, the Allens Cay iguanas are docile herbivores with an occasional crustacean to enhance the menu. They play a role in the island's ecosystem, too, pruning plants and disbursing seeds. The largest indigenous land animals in the Bahamas, these creatures are found nowhere else in the world and are considered one of the most endangered lizards. Sadly, the biggest threat to the colony is poaching, iguanas being a traditional source of meat for islanders. They're also captured and sold to the pet industry. Left alone in their natural environment they can grow up to 5' long snout to tail tip, weigh as much as 25 lbs. and live 80 years.

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