Invasive Species Capture Leads To Vegetation Concerns

The American or Green Iguana was captured recently, leading villagers to raise their concerns.
15 Jun 2019 11:05
Invasive Species Capture Leads To Vegetation Concerns
Youths of Qamea Island holding American iguanas caught at Naiviivi Village on June 12,2019. Photo: Courtesy of Vani Turaga

A group of villagers on Qamea Island, two nautical miles east of Taveuni, are calling for help to eradicate the American iguana. The villagers say the invasive iguanas would destroy the island’s vegetation.

The residents of Naiviivi Village made the call after the capture of an American iguana, the invasive species that is laying waste to vegetation on the island.

The American or Green Iguana was captured recently, leading villagers to raise their concerns.

Villager Vani Damian Turaga said her cousin, Niumaia Turaganicolo, helped officers from the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) in their effort to catch and kill the creatures.

“This creature has been on the island since 2000 and the BAF has been working with the villagers, trying its best to keep it away from the island,” Mrs Turaga said.

“It eats all our vegetables and during breeding season they hatch more than 100 eggs.

“If something is not done then after 10 years there won’t be vegetation on our island.”

BAF said in a statement that the Giant Invasive Iguana (GII) or Green Iguana, known commonly in Fiji as the American iguana (scientifically called Iguana iguana) was a large, tree-dwelling (arboreal) species of lizard.

Native to the Central-South American and Caribbean regions, it is an invasive species in Fiji.

It is believed that GII was introduced to Qamea in the early 2000s.

GII have since become established island-wide on Qamea and Matagi.

It also revealed that once GII are captured, body measurements are recorded and the iguanas are euthanized using accepted methods.

The first GII reported to officials was in 2002, the first wild animal was retrieved in 2008, and by 2009 there was sufficient concern about GII that survey and awareness campaigns were initiated.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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