The St Lucia Racer, a snake that had been declared extinct more than 70 years ago, has been found alive and well in a nature reserve on an islet just off the coast of St Lucia.
At least 11 St Lucia Racers have been tagged by a group of international scientists hunting for the snake in the Maria Islands reserve, a part of St Lucia located about one kilometer south of the mainland, according to the British-based Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
Scientists estimate that 18 snakes live on the reserve, said Durrell’s Eastern Caribbean program manager Matthew Morton.
“In one sense it is a very worrying situation, with such a small population restricted to a single, tiny site,” he said. “But in another sense, it’s an opportunity … It means that we still have a chance to save this species.”
The gentle, non-venomous brown snake was declared extinct in 1936, but one was spotted on the reserve in 1973 and rare sightings have since been reported. Late last year, Durrell, with help from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups, launched a search for the snake on the larger of the two Maria Islands.
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