The Turks and Caicos National Trust (TCNT) have launched a ‘Rock Iguana sensitivity training’ initiative, identifying key stakeholders to assist and participate in this important conservation strategy. As an interested and affected stakeholder, Caicos Dream Tours have agreed to collaborate with the TCNT to help protect Turks and Caicos’ indigenous Rock Iguana on Little Water Cay and Half Moon Bay.
Simon Busuttil, Biosecurity Advisor for the Darwin Plus funded Iguana Partnership Project, and who works for the National Trust, is running a series of workshops with Caicos Dream Tours’ staff, involving the reception staff, captains, mates, crew, and managers. Topics discussed during the training include conservation actions currently, and previously, undertaken to protect the iguanas, as well as appropriate etiquette to be employed when educating tourists and visitors about these treasured reptiles.
Simon Busuttil said “The Iguanas are a huge asset to TCI’s brand and economy and are an international conservation success story. We need to make sure that all visitors are aware of this and how to behave when visiting Iguana Islands. Recent social media posts have created disturbing images of iguanas being held and fed”.
The first of the workshop series kicked off on the 4th of February and was hosted at the Caicos Dream Tours headquarters at the Alexandra Resort in Providenciales.
Enock Simmons from Caicos Dream Tours said “Caicos Dream Tours is very humble and delighted to be the first Tours & Excursions company in the TCI to join this exciting, attractive and informative program. The training about this program might leave one stunned. In our opinion, it will enhance your knowledge and sensitivity, totally transform the view point of your entire organization/company about "TCI Rock Iguanas" and give open eyes to the desperate need in helping to preserve these beautiful and rare creatures, which play pivotal role in Tourist attraction in TCI.
We will continue to support and work together with Simon and team to make this happen. We also would like to highly recommend this program to all hospitality base companies, especially the local tour operators, hotels and Villas, not excluded government and private schools for a much greater impact on our next generation.”
Over $2.2 million has been invested by the UK Government, European Union and others in protecting TCI’s Rock Iguanas in the past 10 years – most of it on Pine, Water and Little Water Cays including Half Moon Bay. Recent actions to safeguard the Iguanas in this area include removing feral cats and rats from Pine, Water and Little Water Cays, as well as clearing of invasive Casuarina, or Australian Pine.
“It is thus hoped that the number of iguanas in the area will be monitored by scientists from San Diego Zoo and we expect to see an increase in the number of iguanas in the area.” said Simon Busuttil.
The TCNT requests that all tour operators follow The Iguana Code of Conduct. Should you or your company be interested in collaborating with the Trust to educate staff to ensure an effective and impactful conservation effort, please contact the Turks and Caicos National Trust on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iguana Friendly Code of Conduct
Follow the trails and signs on site and stay on pathways and boardwalks - avoid walking on iguana burrows and crushing their eggs
Do not harass or chase the iguanas and keep noise to a minimum. We know that stress causes them to live shorter lives
Keep your distance - they are wild animals which can bite and cause nasty infections
Do not feed the iguanas – feeding will harm them
Reduce the risk of fire by not smoking or setting fires, which is illegal under the National Parks Ordinance
Take your trash away with you - litter attracts rats which destroy iguana eggs
No dogs or cats are allowed – they can kill iguanas.