Are iguanas any lesser than humans?

Iguanas matters too. The rise of the Black Lives, White Lives and All Lives matter too movements has helped to raise awareness of the sanctity of every human life, regardless of race, colour, culture, socio-economic status, religion, sexual orientation, etcetera.

  The narrative in recent times has shifted in many human relationships from one of toxic “you versus I” to one of inclusivity and accommodation. Lines of “otherness” in many instances that were once distinct, pitting one group against another, on the basis of acquired differences (wholly by accidents of birth) has been blurred.

  As a species, we are approaching, albeit slowly, the realisation of our shared humanity and in the process we continue to hope for and envisage a moment sometime yonder when we will either by social and/or biological evolution divorce ourselves from the superficial importance we have accorded our existence.

  This attitude of “humans come first” has propagated its fair share of harm and has been largely responsible for the carnage we have caused to befall members of our own species and other life forms. But are we really any more important than iguanas?

  The iguanas of St. Maarten are an endangered species, meaning – they are on the brink of becoming non-existent, never to be seen again on the island. And this is so despite the humongous efforts of members of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, animal activists and other pro-life individuals. Nevertheless, I am not sure if the battle to save these wonderful creatures will be won.

  However, the question that can invite us to act collectively to reverse their impending doom is whether the battle can be won and what does that entail from us? I choose to err on the side of being optimistic that with greater sensitisation and awareness of who we are in relation to iguanas, we can at least provide some flicker of hope.

  No iguana has an interest in crossing our busy roadways fully aware of its imminent fate, but it does so all the same because it lacks the consciousness to determine and undertake a safe course of action. It’s a dreadful, unpleasant and extremely sad sight to observe iguanas degutted on the roadways while humans continue to display a callous and disgusting disregard for their mangled bodies. A human life that meets the same fate under similar circumstances will almost always elicit and stir feelings of grief, sadness, lost etc. Why should it be any different with another life form whose very existence forms a part of the collective web of life which we are connected to and consciously or unconsciously depend on?

  We are living in an era where money has become the single most important currency of value. The value of the environment, culture, animals, plants, morals, etcetera, has all been subordinated to the relentless pursuit of money. We are producing and consuming at an alarming rate not taking cognisance of the damage, some irreversible, that we are inflicting on other facets of life, all in the name of “progress”.

  We are quick to dismiss intangibles, everything must be measurable, quantity over quality. Our selfish predisposition has forever etched in our minds the thought that we come first. We have granted ourselves the right to dominate and diminish the importance of other members of our own species, let alone iguanas.

  Iguanas will continue to encroach upon our space, in some cases inadvertently getting killed or injured and in other cases violently hacked to death and dismembered. Their being in proximity to our abode should not be construed as a threat, justifying our quickness to terminate their lives. As a matter of fact, it’s the activities of man and not nature, as some are inclined to think, that are disrupting their habitats pushing them closer to cohabitate with us.

  Iguanas have no business living among us, they lead more flourishing and natural lives when they are in their natural homes. One only has to visit an iguana’s sanctuary and you become instantly enthralled with the intricacies of their behaviour and personalities, tame, calm, aggressive, attentive, curious … they are free to be the creatures they have evolved to become, living harmoniously, something humans have hitherto been unable to accomplish collectively and which seems to be constantly eluding us in spite of our best efforts.

  Our progress as a species appears to be fluctuating with increments of forward motion followed by prolonged reversals. It is known that every organism that has been imbued with the life force of nature is entirely at the whims and fancies of time and with time comes decay, aging and death. Implicitly this awareness is an equaliser which places us all on a level playing field performing different roles.

  Human beings have been endowed or evolved (depends which side of the fence you are on) to augment and support the preservation of other forms of life whose capacity to adapt has declined over time for varying reasons. It is not wholly by chance that we are an ecological success, the only species that can survive almost anywhere on planet earth. This awareness oftentimes tempts us to succumb to the thought that we are inherently superior to other creatures and we commit the mistake thinking we are, by attributing meaning and thought to this observation which in itself is just what it is – pure observation.

  The realisation that one of our roles is to protect and impact the lives of other species that are differently capable than us and whose roles are equally as important for maintaining equilibrium of our planet can help to bring about attitudinal change in our approach for the preservation of nature’s creatures.


Orlando Patterson