Celestus occiduus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Anguidae

Scientific Name: Celestus occiduus (Shaw, 1802)
Common Name(s):
English Jamaica Giant Galliwasp, Sinking Galliwasp
Lacerta occidua Shaw, 1802

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) C2a(i,ii); D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2015-07-21
Assessor(s): Wilson, B.S., Hedges, B. & World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Brooks, T.
Last recorded in the mid-nineteenth century, it is thought that the introduction of predatory species (primarily mongoose) to Jamaica, and the extensive conversion of woody swamp habitat, resulted in the extinction of Celestus occiduus. Recent surveys, while extensive, have however, not yet been exhaustive, given the difficulties of access into and around the Black River Morass, leaving room for some hope that the species may persist, albeit with a tiny population. Any remnant population is thought likely to number fewer than 50 mature individuals of this large species, and is likely to be restricted to a very small area likely at risk from habitat degradation and continued impacts of mongoose predation. As such this species is listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).
Date last seen: 1851
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Jamaica (Henderson and Powell 2009). It was reported in the 1700s from Bluefields, near to the Black River Morass by H. Gosse, and has not been recorded since the mid-nineteenth century (Wilson 2011).
Countries occurrence:
Possibly extinct:
Additional data:
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The last record of this species was in the mid-nineteenth century, and there has been moderate (although not exhaustive) survey work through its historical range; thus if the species is still extant its population is assumed to be tiny, probably fewer than 50 individuals (S.B. Hedges and B. Wilson pers. comm. 2015). This is the largest species of its genus and was reported to be common by Gosse, writing around 1850 (S.B. Hedges pers. comm. 2016). This author was writing prior to the introduction of the Small Indian Mongoose in the late 19th Century, presumed to be the major cause of its decline and possible extinction.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:40Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It was apparently found in woody and marshy habitats (Shaw 1802 in Henderson and Powell 2009).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no known use of or trade in this species, which is known only from historical specimens and may be extinct.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The introduction of predatory species, primarily the Small Indian Mongoose, may have resulted in the extinction of the species. The conversion of woody swamps for logging, subsistence agriculture, and residential development has been extensive through the species' presumed range over the last two centuries. Extensive cannabis cultivation in the area of the Black River Morass, from which the species was historically recorded, has constrained survey efforts in this region and it is hoped that a subpopulation may consequently have survived here undetected. If so, it will undoubtedly be very small and localized, and it is unknown what impact habitat degradation for cannabis cultivation is likely to have on this lizard.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Surveys to determine whether the species persists are a top priority, focusing on woody swamp forest in and around Black River Morass; given extensive cannabis cultivation in the area, appropriate safety precautions are recommended. Should it be rediscovered, priorities will become site safeguard, invasive species control, conservation breeding, and ecological research.

Citation: Wilson, B.S., Hedges, B. & World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 2017. Celestus occiduus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T4097A71739494. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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