May 6, 2008—Wildlife officials in the Cayman Islands are struggling to determine who killed six extremely rare blue iguanas found butchered in a nature preserve over the weekend.
The reptiles were found Sunday at Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park, a refuge for the iguanas and other wildlife on Grand Cayman Island (see map).
The crime is a devastating blow to the species, which is found only on the small Caribbean island and is listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Most of the remaining blue iguanas live in Queen Elizabeth Park, where a breeding program was begun in 2001. Outside the park, as few as ten of the animals are thought to survive, according to IUCN.
The six dead iguanas were found with their bodies crushed, and some had also been lacerated and partially dismembered.
"This is a despicable act that was carried out by cowardly and cruel individuals," Chief Inspector Richard Barrow told the Cayman News Service.
is truly sickened by this incident, and we will not stop until we find who is responsible for this senseless act."
No motives or suspects were known, he added, but officials are offering a thousand-Cayman-dollar reward for information leading to an arrest.