Barbados has tragically 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, which has a large campus on Barbados, requested FFI’s help to assess the species’ status and needs, and to advise on its conservation. No more than 250 adults 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.
Habitat loss poses arguably the greatest threat to the world’s biodiversity, with human activity inflicting unprecedented changes on the natural habitats on which wildlife depends.