Business

Iguanas at resorts spark new interest

By LITIA MATHEWSELL Initially feared extinct on the island, recent sightings of Fiji crested iguanas on MaloloLevu in the Mamanuca Islands have sparked interest amongst resort stakeholders. The first sighting
15 Aug 2012 10:18

By LITIA MATHEWSELL

Ahura Resorts group general manager and Mamanuca Environment Society treasurer Steve Anstey with the crested iguana named Malolo at Likuliku Lagoon Resort. Photo: Courtesy of the MAMANUCA ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY

Initially feared extinct on the island, recent sightings of Fiji crested iguanas on MaloloLevu in the Mamanuca Islands have sparked interest amongst resort stakeholders.
The first sighting of the endangered iguanas in January last year was followed by another discovery at Malolo Island Resort, with the pair named Malolo and Likuliku by resort staff.
Mamanuca Environment Society(MES) treasurer and Ahura Resorts group general manager, Steve Anstey, said the re-emergence of the iguanas had them excited, with the discovery transforming their perspective and the scope of their environmental issues.
“The Fiji Crested Iguanas are actually on the same level as the panda bear in terms of extinction and people don’t realise how important these creatures are,” he said.
“They are fascinating animals, prehistoric in many ways and we should be taking every effort to preserve them.”
Hopeful for more discoveries of the delicate creatures, MES is optimistic about launching a breeding programme to ease the transit of the iguanas to their natural habitats.
Mr Anstey said iguanas were known to inhabit less-populated islands like Monuriki .
He said and a number of factors had contributed to their decline over the years, beginning with the loss of dry forests in the Mamanuca group.
‘’Remnants of the dry forest remain in isolated pockets and in island gullies. The dry forest ironically enough is also one of the most endangered eco-systems in the world.”
Mr Anstey said the contention for food brought by introduced goats and wild cats had a terrible effect on iguana numbers.
They are now working closely with personnel from the Sigatoka-based Kula Eco Park, San Diego Zoo and Sydney’s Taronga Zoo to help raise the iguanas, with members from each centre recently visiting Malolo Levu for assessments, DNA samples and tallies of more possible adult populations.




Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: