|"The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana"
18x24" acrylic on canvas
(C) Cara Bevan 2011
|It was once the most endangered iguana in the world…and nobody knew it.
The Cayman Islands are home to many unique breeds of iguanas, including the Rhinoceros iguana and Andros Iguana. Among the small chain of islands,
some of which have never seen humans, around eight exotic iguanas live without fear. On the most populated island of Grand Cayman lived a blue creature
– known only to the residents and collectors. The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana.
They could change their color at will from neutral black to bright blue, but it’s their “display” colors that gave them their name. It’s also their color that led to
their rarity. During their isolated evolution there weren’t cars, humans, cats, or dogs. When we stepped into the scene, they began to disappear. They were
originally discovered in 1938…then they were almost forgotten.
A chance encounter had Fred Burton, researcher, noticing the Blue Iguana in 1979. A little legwork and the discovery was quick – the blues were a dyings
pecies. Action was taken, and in 1990 a trust was formed with the Cayman government to begin repopulation of the Blue Iguana.
They started with just 20 Blues, the founders. That was all the “pure” blues they could find in the wild or held captive by island residents. An invader iguana,
the standard green iguana, had created hybrids that couldn’t be used in the species survival. Coupled with predators and human activity including habitat
loss, they didn’t stand a chance. It was a desperate situation – but thankfully the public and government was excited to save their national treasure.
Now, thanks to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park and all the Recovery Program volunteers, the Blue Iguana not only has a permanent home but also
rising numbers. In 2005 they numbered 200 or more. Guard against cats and dogs have kept the population steadily rising and extinction averted. It’s still a
rocky future, but it’s a great success story that is only getting better.
I’m proud to have painted this. Certainly a challenge I really enjoyed! My references and information came from “The Little Blue Book” by Frederic J.
Burton. It’s a wonderful book, you should read it if you want to know more about these amazing reptiles!
|All artwork and information (C) to Cara Bevan and Art from the Heart.
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