|Specialists Works to Protect Reptiles in Ana Maria Keys
2012.04.03 - 13:29:49 / email@example.com
CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba.- Iguanas and crocodiles living in the keys of Ana Maria, off south of the province of Ciego de Avila, are monitored in an effort to ensure the survival of both species, threatened by the weather and hunting.
Odannis Quiñones, manager of the area that is a national wildlife refuge, explained that the actions are part of a study project on reptiles led by the enterprise for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna in the province.
The specialist said that because of the drought, the iguanas are starting to show signs of malnutrition, since they feed on mangrove. He noted the study comprises an assessment of the health condition of these reptiles, for which they are weighed, measured and tagged.
Experts are also trying to localize their nests and count the eggs, noting that fewer eggs per hectare are sighted every year.
With regards to the American crocodile (acutus), research has shown that the area is home to young animals that measure a little more than one meter in length and come mostly from the next province of Camaguey.
Crocodile nests with 32 to 36 eggs have been spotted in the islets of Ovispo and La Canal; however, none has been sighted in 2012 so far.
Quiñones said that since the acutus is usually the victim of poachers, the refuge is under watch to prevent the use of fishing nets.
Orlando Moreno Suarez, specialist from the regional CITMA (Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment) delegation in Ciego de Avila, said the management plan of the Ana Maria wildlife refuge is supervised by a coordinating board and that they count on the support of various institutions such as the National Office for Fishing Inspection, Coastguards, Body of Forest Rangers and the CITMA Regulatory Group.
The keys of Ana Maria has a total area of 119,000 hectares distributed in more than 40 islets in formation covered by mangrove swamps making up the permanent habitat of pelicans, small reptiles and the bee hummingbird, endemic to Cuba.