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Barbados leaf-toed gecko. Credit: Jenny Daltry / Fauna & Flora

Barbados leaf-toed gecko. Credit: Jenny Daltry / Fauna & Flora

Barbados leaf-toed gecko project

Project
Project lead: Isabel Vique

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 Fauna & Flora’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.

Objectives

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.

Our work

Fauna & Flora 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. Fauna & Flora 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. Fauna & Flora has also launched a public awareness campaign to drive habitat protection. 

Barbados leaf-toed gecko. © Jenny Daltry

Barbados leaf-toed gecko. © Jenny Daltry

Barbados leaf-toed gecko.

Key milestones

    2019

    Launch of awareness-raising campaign.

    2014

    Start of research into ecology and distribution of the species.

    2013

    Project began with a recovery plan for the Barbados leaf-toed gecko.

    2011

    Barbados leaf-toed gecko rediscovered.

Project partners

  • University of the West Indies
  • Ministry of Environment and National Beautification 
  • Best of Barbados
A forest gecko in Belize. © Juan Pablo Moreiras / Fauna & Flora

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A forest gecko in Belize. © Juan Pablo Moreiras / Fauna & Flora

Isabel Vique profile picture

Isabel Vique

Programme Officer, Americas and Caribbean

Isabel is a conservation biologist, with a passion for species conservation. She joined FFI after finishing the MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge and provides support to FFI’s teams and partners in the Americas & Caribbean.