Expansion of the Rescue Centre to Support In-situ Conservation of Jamaican Protected and Endangered Fauna and Flora through Capacity Building and Community Education
Expansion of the Rescue Centre to Support In-situ Conservation of Jamaican Protected and Endangered Fauna and Flora through Capacity Building and Community Education
Jamaica, a small island within the Caribbean, with its unique bio-geography has developed flora and fauna with a great level of biodiversity. In fact, several of the island?s species are endemic and of great conservation significance. Biodiversity today is under a wide variety of threats, such as human persecution (illegal trafficking and hunting), loss of habitat through human development and agriculture and of course climate change.
The endemic Jamaica Iguana (Cyclura collei) is one such species which came very close to extinction but through concerted efforts from local and overseas conservation partners has managed to combat the effects of an ever-changing world. The initiatives to achieve these results include: Management of their habitat, Hellshire Hills, for biodiversity conservation, including control of charcoal burning and invasive species eradication; increasing the number of the Jamaican Iguana population through direct protection and reintroduction; Policy and legislative development to promote habitat protection and sustainable use; Public education and awareness and the development of alternative livelihoods. The species is a flagship species and efforts to protect its status will impact on other important endemic species such as the Jamaican Hutia (Geocapromys brownii) and the Yellow snake (Chalicotheres subflavus), listed by IUCN as endangered and vulnerable, respectively.

A significant part of the continued conservation success through the work of the Rescue Centre for Protected and Endangered Jamaican Fauna and Flora will come from the ability of the programme to reintroduce sub-adult animals into the wild. The head-start programme which removes hatchlings from the wild and grows these animals in a captive environment at the centre, has facilitated the reintroduction of over 400 animals back to the wild. These reintroduced animals have translated to an eight-fold increase in the number of nesting females, a record number of hatchlings and forty (40) percent of the wild population target for the species.

A key component of the in-situ reintroduction is the health screening exercises which evaluates reintroduction candidates for ?fitness?. Their qualification greatly increases the probability for survival allowing for a direct impact to increasing the number of animals in the habitat. Reintroduced animals enter the population at sexual maturity and are released before the laying season. This role of the centre will be supported by public education efforts through sensitization information (audio-visual media), stakeholder meetings and community workshops promoting alternative livelihoods to charcoal burners who are a direct threat to the survival of the species. Reforestation programmes will also help to restore and protect the habitat necessary for the continued survival of the species. The programme implemented by the centre represents over twenty-five (25 years) of conservation effort with many partners having clear and distinct roles. Although efforts have seen significant changes towards the survival of the species, the long-term goals must be maintained and the various programmes to support them, must continue. This time we won?t have a third chance.

Project Objective(s) and Expected Results
The main objective of this project is to conserve a viable population of the Jamaican Iguana and its natural habitat through public awareness activities and alternative livelihoods for community members. The project will focus on three expected results as listed below.

Improved in?situ Reintroductions of the Jamaican Iguana in their natural habitats, and protection of other key species - The programme component of reintroduction somewhat spans a grey area between ex-situ and in-situ conservation. However, this component contributes significantly to the species recovery plan by directly impacting on population numbers, with more than 40% of the population target number coming from this activity as well as the indirect contribution through the timing of the introduction, where sexually mature individuals can potentially make an immediate impact on the next breeding season. One critical part of this component is to conduct the health screening exercises. This involves physical examination, weights and body length measures, blood chemistry values to determine diagnostic values such as total protein, calcium /phosphate ratios to name a few and genetic blood samples. The ability to conduct this is dependent on the necessary equipment and staff.

Although the programme has functioned for many years, there is no dedicated equipment to facilitate the screening exercise. It has depended greatly on the Veterinary Services Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for the loan of this equipment. So, the Jamaican Iguana programme must compete with their priority programmes and also has no control over the functioning of the equipment. Consumables such as collection tubes, syringes, slides, drugs etc. have come through the technical team from Fort Worth Zoo, Texas. The strategy is to move to full local ownership of the programme both in technical expertise, support equipment and diagnostics. This will also involve some training of zoo staff to be involved in the execution of this component, namely through Veterinarian and Zookeeper exchanges with partners and on the site training.

As the number of release animals and frequency of releases has now increased, the zoo?s demand to participate in these multiple day releases has also increased. So, support equipment for hiking, food storage etc. should be factored in. Beyond this, zoo personnel are sent to participate in field activities that may include: Tagging of iguanas, Radio tracking of wild or reintroduced animals, general monitoring and predator control. This is done to develop capacity and awareness within the project partners but also for zookeepers to appreciate the integrated project, and value the role they play in this concerted effort. This activity (predator control) with public education, will also help to significantly reduce threats to other key endemic species, such as the Jamaican Hutia and Yellow snake.

Increased Public Awareness through the development of Educational Activities
As outlined in the Species recovery plan to IUCN (Grant. T et .al) , education is a key component and speaks to Education campaign directed at Jamaican School children to instil knowledge of and appreciation for the value of the Jamaican Iguana and its unique dry forest habitat; targeted outreach activities directed to communities close to Hellshire to emphasize the importance of Hellshire hills and Goat islands for the conservation of the Jamaican Iguana and its natural heritage.

? The approach is to bolster the initiatives of other partner organizations such as Urban Development Corporation, (UDC) who work extensively in the area with school-based initiatives to deliver the message as widely and frequently as feasible, complementing visits, talks and presentations with the Zoo?s curriculum developed from existing education programmes and use of the display animals and Zoo mobile. Other initiatives through the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and International Iguana Foundation (IIF) to produce audio visual aids will be enhanced to provide material for a wider reach through television and print media. Special attention will be paid to the influence of social media, such as the use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter etc. to spread the conservation message

Improved Livelihood Opportunities for Community Members
In the Hellshire Hills ? the home of the Jamaican iguana, is also the area where there is vast level of charcoal burning by community members for livelihoods. This greatly affects the habitats of these animals. Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation has been working with the community members, in collaboration with other key stakeholders and partners to establish alternative and sustainable livelihoods for residents. We have recognised the need for a balance, based feedback from community members the most feasible livelihoods options that came up were ecotourism where residents could become registered tour guides for researchers as well as for recreational tourist. As per the NSC recommendations, we will also seek to include beekeeping as another possible livelihood option for community members with a hope of securing a designated area close to the Hellshire Hills for this activity. HZPF will rely heavily on the expertise of the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART) and Tourist Product Development Company (TPDCo) to provide skills training and certification. Noting that stakeholder meetings will help to guide the process in the selection/participation of community members.

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Project Snapshot

The Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation Limited
Area Of Work:
Land Degradation
Operational Phase:
OP6 -Y4 (Jul 18 - Jun 19)
Grant Amount:
US$ 150,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 115,500.00
Project Number:
Start Date:
End Date:
Currently under execution
Project Characteristics and Results
Significant Participation of Indigenous Peoples
Community participation will be invaluable to this project. We are in collaboration with both the educational and social communities through our partners and intend to use those relationships to make inroads into the relevant communities. Key geographical communities such as those in the Hellshire hills and fringe communities will be accessed to form part of the work directly and indirectly. In addition, the zoo will draw on its own community resource database, having established this over the years through previous projects. The intention is to involve community members in the following ways: ? Community based organizations such as church groups, parent teacher?s associations, sport clubs, citizen watch groups etc. ? Organized community or stakeholder meetings where ideas can be shared ? School events, presentations and talks, using children within communities to share information/knowledge with their peer. ? Community training workshops ? Use of the zoo mobile to stimulate interest and community participation ? Distribution of information through audio visual aids such as pamphlets ? Empowerment of women through training ? Offering incentives within these communities such as discounted attendance to the zoo, special exemption for educational programmes such as summer camps, sleep overs or petting zoos ? Use of experts in the field of education and communications to develop curriculum content and communication strategies
Gender Focus
Equal opportunity is given to men and women but the role of women in behaviour modification and project implementation has been well established. Their role will be solicited especially in areas of public education and the consideration of alternative livelihoods. The pre-existing partnerships of JIRG members with community members will be valuable in extending relationships of trust but efforts will be made to access persons through existing community groups or cooperatives and also through religious groups. Competence development will be through training programmes that incorporate: fact-sheets, talks by experts and participatory development. The process will be guided by the United Nations Facilitator manual on gender mainstreaming.
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Number of globally significant species protected by project 2
Number of individuals (gender diaggregated) who have benefited* from SGP project 35

Grantee Contact

Mrs Loy Taylor Bloomfield
Email: TaylorL@hopezookingston.com


107 Old Hope Road
Kingston , 6

SGP Country office contact

Ms Hyacinth Y Douglas
(876) 978-2390-9 ext. 2030


1-3 Lady Musgrave Road
Kingston 5, LA and the Caribbean