Sunday, February 5, 2012

The day I met Godzilla

 Fred Burton heads a mission in the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands to rescue the iconic Grand Cayman Blue Iguana from extinction. His story is a rare thing in conservation: success on a shoestring.

Fred, who is a member of IUCN’s Iguana Specialist Group, has lived in Grand Cayman since 1979 and for the past nine years has been Director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP). In small islands limited resources can often push individuals to shoulder a wide variety of responsibilities and develop diverse expertise. Fred is no exception.
A key player in protected areas planning, the conservation of parrots, seabirds and threatened plants and their habitats, Fred’s palette of experience is typically varied. Amongst this body of work, however, Fred is best known for his achievements with the Blue Iguana—unsalaried and reliant on grant-funding and the support of local and international organizations and volunteers. Fred is literally saving a species from the jaws of extinction—and succeeding where million-dollar initiatives can fail. More