November 12, 2019

Champion of the rock iguanas

Tanja Laaser doesn’t have a cape or a spandex outfit, but when the green iguana hotline rings on Little Cayman, she answers the call.

With a snare and a net, she jumps into her role as the island’s iguana protector – indigenous rock iguanas, that is – and goes out to hunt down the invasive offender, making short work of the green menace.

Laaser, 30, an intern with the Department of the Environment, is the sole person currently keeping track of the rock iguana population on the island and runs point on protecting them.

In addition to ridding the island of any of their green cousins, she, usually with a volunteer helper, captures and tags the rock iguanas, monitors nesting sites, puts up markers to alert local drivers about where the reptiles have been hit by cars, and gives weekly lectures about the animals to educate tourists as well as local residents.

“Why iguanas?” she says of her dedication the animals. “Because they’re cool.”

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