A threat to Fiji’s native and endemic species, and human well-being.
The American iguana (Iguana iguana), more commonly known as the green iguana was first recorded in Fiji in the year 2000, on the island of Qamea in the Cakaudrove Province.
In 2009, they were reported from and confirmed to be present on Laucala Island, Matagi Island and Taveuni Island.
In February 2010, it was reportedly brought into Viti Levu from Taveuni/ Vanua Levu. The American iguana is native to (originally from) South America, and is reported to have been brought into Fiji by a foreign national.
Fiji has three native species of iguanas (iguanas that arrived in Fiji before humans arrived in Fiji) belonging to the genus Brachylophus, of which two are endemic (found only in Fiji and nowhere else in the world).
These two endemic species are the Fiji crested iguana (B. vitiensis) and Fiji banded iguana (B. bulabula). The Fiji banded iguana is found on the islands of Viti Levu, Kadavu, Ovalau, Gau, Viwa (Tailevu), Vanua Levu, Matagi, Qamea, Taveuni, and Laucala – a distribution range which overlaps with that of the introduced American iguana.
The American iguanas is a potential risk to our endangered and endemic iguanas through the spread of diease.
The American iguanas also pose a threat to human beings. Reptiles are known vectors of human salmonellosis; American iguana handling has been one of the most common ways in which humans have contracted this disease. Village gardens are also at risk of intensive foraging by the herbivorous iguanas.
What has been done so far?
The Fiji Department of Environment has set up a taskforce to oversee the incursion response. The DoE commissioned the first assessment by the University of the South Pacific into Qamea Island, in response to the request by the Tikina Wainikeli in Cakaudrove (2009);
The Ministry of Primary Industries through the Department of Agriculture has established an American Iguana Eradication Campaign Taskforce to oversee the eradication of the American iguana.
The Ministry of Primary Industries has declared Laucala Island, Matagi Island, Qamea Island and Taveuni as a biosecurity zone; have prohibited the transporting of American iguanas between islands. For more information on the Biosecurity Promulgation, contact: The Secretariat, American iguana eradication campaign task force P: 3312 512; F: 3305 043
The Fiji government has awarded $100,000 to the task force to conduct the eradication campaign.
What else can you do?
1. Report any sighting of the American iguanato the task force
2. If you see any unknown lizard or iguana, take a good picture (head shot, body shot) and contact NatureFiji-MareqetiViti for identification of the species.
3. Do not release any captured American iguanas into the forest (it will make them even more problematic).
4. Bring in any captured American iguanas to Biosecurity personnel
5. Contact the Task force or NatureFiji-MareqetiViti for any further information
PLEASE DO NOT KILL ANY IGUANAS WITHOUT FIRST CONFIRMING ITS SPECIES WITH AN EXPERT (contact NatureFiji-MareqetiViti).
JUVENILE AMERICAN IGUANAS COULD BE MISTAKEN FOR ADULT FIJI BANDED IGUANAS.
NatureFiji-MareqetiViti is a member of the above taskforce. Please do
not hesitate to also contact us for any technical information, or on
identifying the physical differences between the American iguana and
our endemic banded iguana.
Please download the PDF document below for the presentation highlighting the differences between the two species; and how to identify them on sight.