Monday, January 29, 2007
Two Fiji animals - the bold and the beautiful
The pastel picture is too big to scan in one piece (more than A3) so I'm afraid I scanned it as four sections. Sorry. A mongoose and a little lizard. One is bold and the other is beautiful!
There are at least two kinds of iguanas in Fiji, the brachylophus fasciatus which is blue and the brachylophus vitiensis which is green and white and crested and can change colour. Their ancestors may have drifted to Fiji from South America.
The small Indian mongoose was introduced to Fiji, so they say, to get rid of the snakes in the sugar-cane fields. But that is a myth, according to Dr Paddy Ryan who says it was introduced to get rid of rats. They say that a pair were brought from Calcutta in 1883 after the failure to breed them from 1870. The mongoose has a suitable name in my opinion - Herpestes javanicus as it is certainly a pest in Fiji. Mongeese often stole the eggs from our chickens when we lived in Vatuadova near Labasa, and I've seen them running in and out of a cafe in Labasa town. It’s a predator of birds, small mammals and reptiles so iguanas are at risk from mongeese. They even eat the eggs of sea turtles. They live to be about four years. This species has been nominated as among 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders.
There is a children’s story about the mongoose and the iguana by Ann Mason 2006 and she has given three optional endings. The website is intended for discussion by children.