Yikes! This unwelcome visitor was found swimming from Qamea Island to the nearby shore of Taveuni. There was a letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times last week about ait and a whisper before that suggesting it was brought to Qamea by am American!
from today's paper: Villagers at Lovonivonu on Taveuni were shocked to find this iguana on Monday. They believe the reptile swam from Qamea, some 25 kilometres away. Now villagers fear the iguana will threaten chickens, ducks and indigenous species...
It's been put inside a cage and children warned not to tease it and the Quarantine guys are coming up from Suva to have a look. It certainly is a big one.
(Later, on 28 Jan, another article about the iguana and it seems that some of the information in earlier articles are not correct.)
Reptile fears humans
Thursday, January 28, 2010
A REPTILE that has stirred alarm on Taveuni and Qamea is scared of humans, according to the Department of Agricul-ture. The creature has been identified as the Green Iguana of the Iguana Iguana species, which is a new species in Fiji. Fact-finding mission head Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robin Archari said the iguana was a herbivore that fled from humans, contrary to reports from the islands. The department is urging people keeping the creature as pets to surrender them," Dr Chari said. "We have reports that some iguanas are being kept in Nadi. We're concerned they could be carrying pathogens that could threaten indigenous species."
Dr Archari confirmed the iguanas were smuggled into Fiji in 2000 by a foreigner who owned a property on Qamea. He also rejected reports the iguana was threatening the islanders' food source by eating crabs and fish.
"It's actually scared of humans. All these reports are false because this is a herbivore that consumes mangrove leaves and bark and occasionally eats insects," he said. "The iguana was introduced by this foreigner who constructed ponds with the intention of breeding more. He brought in two iguanas and they've multiplied to about 1000." Dr Archari said the creature only took to the sea to escape from humans.
""We interviewed the caretaker of the property of the person who introduced it in Fiji and he has been living with the iguanas without any harm to himself for many years. It did not swim to Taveuni."
The iguana discovered by Lovonivonu villagers escaped the custody of a passenger on an inter island ferry that was about to leave Waiyevo for Vanua Levu. As a herbivore, the Green Iguana also eats dalo leaves.
"We have had reports that it has damaged the vegetable farms of some but we are trying to determine the truth behind this and whether it is a threat to the natural flora and fauna," he said.
Further trials will be carried out on three iguanas at the Koronivia Research Station before a decision is made about its future.