Rhinoceros Iguana

Citron Crested Cockatoo

Scientific Name: Cylura cylura cornuta
Wild Status: Vunerable

About Me:

Dominican Republic; Haiti

Range Description:
Rhinoceros iguanas are still widely distributed throughout Hispaniola, including most of its offshore islands. Their current geographic range is fragmented relative to their more continuous historical distribution, and is strongly associated with xeric regions of lower human population density. Most iguana concentrations are found along the southern side of Hispaniola, with the highest numbers in south-southwestern Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic a minimum of ten subpopulations are known. In Haiti ten or fewer increasingly threatened subpopulations may still exist.

Habitat and Ecology:
Like other rock iguanas, rhinoceros iguanas are diurnal, spending the night in retreats. Rock crevices, caves, burrows dug in soil or sand, and hollow trunks are also used during the day for resting, cooling or sheltering. Males defend territories containing retreats attractive to females. High trees and exposed rocks are used by males for basking and overseeing defended areas. Mating takes place at the beginning of or just prior to the first rainy season of the year. Females lay from 2 to 34 eggs, with an average clutch size of 17. Females guard nests for several days after laying, and incubation lasts approximately 85 days. Females probably become sexually mature at 2-3 years of age. Rhinoceros iguanas feed on fruits, leaves and flowers of a variety of plants, depending on availability.

Major Threats:
Habitat destruction, due to extraction of hardwoods and fuel wood, charcoal production, agriculture, livestock grazing and limestone mining, represents the major threat to rhinoceros iguanas in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In the Dominican Republic about 13% of the human population occupy dry forest regions. These areas are also the most economically depressed and exploitation of forest habitats for charcoal and fuel wood represent important sources of income. About 75-80% of the total national demand for these products originates from dry forest habitats. In the Dominican Republic, roughly 35% of rhinoceros iguana habitat has been lost, and approximately 75% of what remains is disturbed. Both figures are much higher for Haiti.

Other important threats are predation by feral dogs, cats, mongoose and pigs on adults, juveniles and eggs, and illegal hunting of subadults and adults for food and local trade. The use of iguanas for food in Haiti is extreme in rural areas where iguanas are conspicuous enough that local people are familiar with them.