The Caribbean islands form one of the most diverse biodiversity hotspots and have suffered a higher rate of species extinctions than any other region. Despite comprising only 0.15% of the Earth’s area, they account for at least 10% of the world’s recorded bird extinctions, 40% of mammal extinctions and more than 60% of reptile extinctions since 1500.
In 2015, FFI was approached by the St Vincent & the Grenadines Forestry Department to help save the Union Island gecko, a tiny jewel-like lizard known only from a restricted area of dry forest in Chatham Bay on Union Island. Further investigations confirmed that live geckos were being poached and sold abroad to collectors, and their forest habitat was in grave danger of being destroyed.
This project is working to save the Saint Lucia racer, which is probably now the world's rarest snake. Having been wiped out from mainland Saint Lucia, this harmless species is now wholly confined to one nine-hectare island managed by the Forestry Department and Saint Lucia National Trust. Surveys in 2012 estimated there were fewer than 20 individuals on Maria Major island, prompting FFI, Durrell and our national partners to devise a recovery plan that aims to increase the world population to 500 by 2025.
Nearly 60 km from Antigua, Redonda is a rugged, uninhabited volcanic island with a remarkable history, globally important seabird colonies, and unique flora and fauna, including species still without scientific names. Though the island is unquestionably of high conservation value—the Department of Environment has recommended it be made a protected area—feral goats and thousands of large, predatory black rats had turned much of its surface into a dusty moonscape and even damaged the surrounding marine habitats.