The Antiguan Racer Conservation Project, co-ordinated by the Environmental Awareness Group since the first rare snake was discovered in 1995, is world renowned for its enormous success in bringing the population of
back from the brink of extinction.
Recently the project, now called the Offshore Island Conservation Programme, had the opportunity to partner with a similar project which will be getting underway in St Lucia.
The St Lucia Racer (Liophis ornatus) or Kouwés is one of four snakes considered endemic to St. Lucia (the other three are the Fer-de-lance, boa constrictor and worm snake). The St Lucia racer snake has been red-listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered since 1996 with later calls being made for it to be changed to critically endangered.
Like the Antiguan Racer, the St Lucia Racer population has suffered due to the introduction of the small Asian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus.
Once common on the mainland, this snake is now known only from Maria Major, a 12 hectare island off St Lucia.
Maria Major is also home to other very rare and endemic St Lucian wildlife, including the Maria Islands pygmy gecko and St Lucia whiptail lizard, and seasonally supports large colonies of nesting seabirds.
The parallels between the two snakes cannot be ignored. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Forestry Department of Ministry of Agriculture in St Lucia are planning for another parallel, the creation of a project similar in scope and goal to the Antiguan Racer conservation effort. Some objectives of this new project include a determination of the conservation status of the St Lucia racer and its primary ecological needs and threats, and the development of a recovery strategy.
Read more about the project, which seems to be off to a good start, in the original article from 365 Antigua.
Previously on Green Antilles: Conservation success story: the recovery of the Antiguan racer, Antiguan racer snake: ABS TV interview and Saving St. Lucia’s fer-de-lance.
[Photo: Matthew Morton, Durrell Wildlife, via 365antigua.com]