Many of the Turks and Caicos Islands are protected by being encompassed in national parks, nature reserves and sanctuaries, a number of which support Bahamas rock iguana populations. Unfortunately, many of these reserves still suffer from the effects of introduced mammals and few government resources have been allocated to maintain or enforce protection of non-marine parks (1). However, the establishment of the National Trust for the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1994 has significantly increased the conservation of terrestrial wildlife. The National Trust has been granted stewardship of Little Water Cay, and similar transfers of Little Ambergris and East Bay Cays are currently pending. On Little Water Cay, boardwalks and observation towers have been constructed at two popular landing sites to reduce the damaging impacts of tourism, and a visitation fee has been implemented with the proceeds going towards supporting conservation activities. A trapping programme to remove feral cats from Pine, Water, and (if necessary) Little Water Cays has also been established by the National Trust (5).
Legislation to protect iguanas within these islands has recently been drafted, and in November 2003 a Conservation and Management Plan was drawn up, which lays out a comprehensive strategy to conserve and restore populations of the Turks and Caicos iguana within its historic range, and perpetuate it as a symbol of national pride (1). Beginning in 2000, the translocation of 218 animals was undertaken, from islands where they are currently threatened to four uninhabited cays within the Turks and Caicos reserve system. To date, the translocated iguanas have experienced a 98 percent survival rate (6). This example provides hope for similar translocations in the future to other islands where the species has dwindled or been extirpated (7) (8).
On Booby Cay, the Bartsch’s iguana subspecies is protected like all Bahamian rock iguanas under the Wild Animal Protection Act of 1968. Additionally, the Bahamas National Trust has proposed to the government that Booby Cay, which is also of great importance to nesting seabirds, be named a protected area under the national parks system. Most importantly, the removal of feral goats has been planned, which would effectively eliminate the main threat to this subspecies and massively help its chances of survival (5).