Barbados leaf-toed gecko project
Barbados is one of the world’s most densely populated islands and its natural habitats continue to dwindle. It has lost most of its endemic species due to habitat loss and the introduction of invasive alien species such as mongooses and monkeys. The Barbados leaf-toed gecko was among those believed extinct until a tiny population was rediscovered in 2011.
The University of the West Indies (UWI), which has a campus on Barbados, and the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification (MENB), responsible for the preservation of the biodiversity in Barbados, requested FFI’s help to assess the species’ status and needs, and to advise on its conservation. No more than 250 adult Barbados leaf-toed geckos have been confirmed in the wild, most of them clinging onto a narrow strip of the island’s rocky east coast. Even here, pressures are rising from development and invasive species, such as the highly adaptable and faster-breeding African house gecko . The solutions are complex, but as one of the country’s few remaining endemic species, there is great scope for the ‘BLT gecko’ to become a much-needed flagship for conserving and restoring Barbados’s terrestrial ecosystems.
Now that we know more about this species, it is imperative to prevent its extinction. With this in mind, the team is working to establish a gecko sanctuary. Once built, it will become a safe haven for the BLT gecko, away from alien predators, competitors and poachers. The sanctuary should be able to support a healthy thriving population of the species. At the same time, we are raising wider awareness of the BLT gecko and its plight among the people of Barbados.
FFI staff compiled a recovery plan for the Barbados leaf-toed gecko with expert input from UWI staff and students, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and other concerned stakeholders. FFI trained a small team from UWI to successfully eradicate invasive rats from the islet where the gecko was rediscovered, and set about searching for other sites where the geckos might survive. We are now supporting a Barbadian young conservationist to study the needs of the BLT gecko and working with UWI and the MENB to create a fenced sanctuary where geckos can be guarded from some of the most dangerous alien species. FFI has also launched a public awareness campaign to drive habitat protection.
Launch of awareness-raising campaign
Start of research into ecology and distribution of the species
Project began with a recovery plan for the Barbados leaf-toed gecko
Barbados leaf-toed gecko rediscovered
With well over a century of conservation activity behind us, it is no surprise that FFI has played a pivotal role in safeguarding the future of an incredible variety of species in all corners of the globe, from British bats to Mexican cacti, iguanas in the Bahamas and tree snails from Tahiti.
Isabel Vique, Programme Manager, Caribbean