Lonely Planet Writer

Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes

A leading conservationist has urged people visiting St Lucia to help protect St Lucia’s population of rare and unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes.

Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: Saint Lucia National Trust
Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: Saint Lucia National Trust

In a letter to The Guardian, Dr. David Corke expressed concern over a planned US$2.6 billion resort development on the Caribbean island, which conservationists fear might threaten vulnerable species.

Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards. Image: Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet
Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards. Image: Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet

The Saint Lucia National Trust is among those worried that a proposed causeway linking the mainland with the Maria Islands nature reserve may have a devastating effect on endemic rare species, the St Lucia whiptail lizard and the world’s rarest snake – the Kouwés snake – known as the St Lucia Racer.

Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: Saint Lucia National Trust
Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: Saint Lucia National Trust

The new resort, known as the Pearl of the Caribbean, will feature a marina, casino, racecourse, shopping mall, apartments and villas and will be located at the southern tip of the island near the town of Vieux Fort.

According to Dr. Corke, the trust invited him to visit the island in 1983 to study the whiptail lizard, which lives only on the Maria Islands. His advice was that its conservation required no special habitat management bar ensuring the islands remained free of the introduced mongoose and rats.

Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: Wildroze/Getty Images
Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: Wildroze/Getty Images

He now fears that linking the Maria Islands to the mainland with a causeway will destroy the only populations of the lizards and snakes, and has urged visitors to register their concern.

Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: James + Courtney Forte/Getty Images/Aurora Open
Tourists have been urged to help protect St Lucia’s unique whiptail lizards and racer snakes. Image: James + Courtney Forte/Getty Images/Aurora Open

“Today the trust allows visits to the islands – entirely compatible with the needs of the wildlife and an excellent tourist experience,” he says. “I urge those thinking of visiting St Lucia to contact the island’s tourist office to emphasise the importance of nature conservation to discerning tourists.”

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