The Jamaican Iguana was thought to be extinct until 1990 when it was re-discovered. The fact it was thought to be extinct highlights how few iguanas are left on Jamaica. It is not the only island rock iguana species to be critically endangered. I had the pleasure of carrying out a survey of the blue iguana endemic to Grand Cayman in 2010, where the charismatic cyan-coloured iguanas are similarly predated by introduced mammals and killed on the roads.
The iguanas on both islands are responding well to recovery programs with the blue iguana increasing from a dozen individuals in 2002 to over 250 by 2009. However, habitat loss and predation of young by snakes, feral cats and dogs are still major problems. Additionally, due to the low number of individuals in the starting populations inbreeding is also a critical issue.
The Jamaican iguana continues to be critically endangered, with only a single location left for the recovering population in the Portland Bight Protected Area. A recent proposal by Jamaican government officials to allow extensive development in this area is causing concern among conservationists who have been working to save this species and the wealth of biodiversity in the area.