Maria Islands

Maria Islands

Geological FeatureWildlife HabitatProtected/Cultivated HabitatEcotourism Resource


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The Maria Islands were vested in the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) on October 9, 1982 (Maria Islands Vesting Order, Statutory Instruments, 1982, No. 53), and later declared a Wildlife Reserve under Section 7 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1980 (by Order of the Minister of Agriculture, dated November 13, 1982). The two islands are home to seven (7) species of reptiles, five (5) of which are endemic. The endemic species are the Saint Lucia Whiptail Lizard3 (Cnemidophorus vanzoi), the Saint Lucia worm snake4 (Leptotyphlops breuli), the Saint Lucia racer (Liophis ornatus), a tree lizard (Anolis luciae), and the dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactylus microlepis). The Saint Lucia racer is classified as endangered on IUCN’s Red List of endangered species, and the Saint Lucia Whiptail Lizard is classified as vulnerable. The rock gecko (Hemidactylus palaichthus) is also found on the larger island (also referred to as Maria Major). Though the rock gecko is not an endemic species, Saint Lucia is the only island in the Greater and Lesser Antilles that has records of this reptile. Liophis ornatus is not only endemic to Saint Lucia, but endemic to Maria Major alone. Cnemidophorus vanzoi is endemic to four offshore islands (Maria Major, Maria Minor, Praslin, and Rat).

The importance of the islands, particularly Maria Major, is underscored by the fact that Saint Lucia has more endemic reptile species than any other island state in the Eastern Caribbean, and Maria Major (which has 63% of all Saint Lucia's endemic reptiles) has by itself more endemic reptile species than two-thirds of any of the other Eastern Caribbean states (Matthew Morton, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust).

There are also two globally endangered ecosystems on Maria Major, the Windward Island xeric scrub (classified as vulnerable), and the Windward Island dry forest (classified as critically endangered).

The 1981-82 study that recommended the establishment of the Maria Islands Wildlife Reserve, titled “Study of the Conservation and Development Requirements for the 3 The Saint Lucia Whiptail is known locally as Zandoli Tè. 4 The Saint Lucia Worm Snake (threadsnake) is known locally as Kouwès. PSEPA Management Plan – March 13, 2009 12 South-East Coast” also recommended that the Maria Islands should be managed within the larger context of the wider area (Vieux Fort), regarding: • Landscapes – The islands are part of a larger scenery that includes the peninsula of Moule à Chique and a large part of the south-east coast.

• Avifauna – Several bird species travel between the islands and the mainland (especially Moule à Chique and Mankote Mangroves), and their overall protection requires protection on the mainland.

• Pollution – Due to the nature of the coastal currents, it is likely that any pollution occurring on the south-east coast, especially in the area between Moule à Chique, Pointe Sables, and the Maria Islands, could have an impact on the marine environment around the islands.


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