Stolen San Salvador Rock Iguanas Return Home to The Bahamas
By Bahamas High Commission in London
Jul 10, 2014 - 8:58:02 AM
Photos: Bahamas High Commission, London
London, England - A collaborative effort between The Bahamas
government, UK Border Force and British Airways led to The Bahamas’ 12
San Salvador Rock Iguanas being returned home on July 9th, 2014 at The
Lynden Pindling International Airport. The rare Iguanas, part of an
endangered species which comes under the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), will travel onto San Salvador on
Thursday where only a few hundred remain.
On February 3rd, the
Iguanas were found by UK Border Force officers on at London Heathrow
Airport Terminal 5; two women were charged in connection with the
The Bahamas government and UK officials see the
repatriation as a huge success as these critically endangered animals
will now be returned to their indigenous habitat.
Minister of The
Environment and Housing, The Honourable Kenred Dorsett stated that the
Iguanas not only play a critical role in the ecosystem services they
provide but that they are vital to maintaining biological diversity and
important elements in providing sustainable livelihoods in rural
communities in the islands they live on in The Bahamas.
Bahamas is extremely pleased that in this particular case, it was a
combination of happenstance and a coordinated effort between all
countries involved, including the country from which the animal is taken
from the wild, the countries through which they are taken and the
destination countries where they are sold, is essential to address the
problem using all tools including international wildlife conservation
agreements such as CITES and enforcement agencies, such as Interpol.
We thank the government of the UK for their excellent cooperation as
they have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the successful
repatriation of these animals and we look forward to working with other
countries as well as local, regional and international NGOs to address
the challenge,” said Minister Dorsett.
Head of the Border Force
CITES team Grant Miller stated that Border Force takes its role in
preventing illegal wildlife trafficking very seriously. Mr. Miller
explained that the rarity of this particular species made this an
incredibly significant seizure as the Iguanas are critically endangered
and in effect priceless.
“We were in contact with the Bahamas High
Commission in London from an early stage and straight away it became
clear that getting them back to their natural habitat was going to be
really important. Arranging the repatriation of such rare animals is
complex and sensitive, but I’m delighted that through our close work
with the Bahamian authorities, British Airways, the City of London
Corporation and other partners we have succeeded.
Not only has
Border Force made sure that the criminals responsible for smuggling
these animals are behind bars, we’re also proud to have been able to
play a part in safeguarding the future of this iconic species,” stated
Partners at British Airways came on board in this
success story by transporting Iguanas to The Bahamas in an effort to
return them to their habitat. The British Airways flight BA253 to Nassau
was flown by Captain Al Matthews who said, “Naturally, all of our
customers are special, but despite having flown Prime Ministers and
members of the Royal Family, these iguanas are by far the most unusual.
You don't expect to share your cabin with incredibly rare reptiles.
However, I can confirm all the iguanas were securely stored throughout
the flight and had the most comfortable journey possible.”
the British Airways BA253 flight, the Iguanas were accompanied by two UK
Border Force officers from London Heathrow Airport to Nassau. At The
Lynden Pindling International Airport, the Iguanas were received by The
Bahamas Environmental Science and Technology Commission along with
environmental stakeholders including The Bahamas National Trust and The
Nature Conservancy. The BBC accompanied the Iguanas and will be
completing a documentary on the journey of the Iguanas and why these
Bahamian animals are so special to the ecosystem of The Bahamas.
© Copyright 2014 by thebahamasweekly.com -