A 2 day training was held at the Peninsula Hotel in Suva targeting Biosecurity officers on brown tree snake surveillance at Fiji’s borders.
13 participants attended the Alien Reptile surveillance training held at the Peninsula Hotel in Suva from the 21st to the 23rd of October.
The training, organised by NatureFiji-MareqetiViti and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji is important for Fiji with the increasing trade and the vast movement of goods and people within the Australasia region both by air and sea.
The training was aimed at strengthening the skills of front line border officials on surveillance of Alien Invasive snakes that appear at our border through air and sea. Participants were trained on detection, identification and handling of venomous and non-venomous snakes if intercepted at the borders.
Guam is one country in the region that has been severely affected by the Brown tree snake. The Brown tree snake, native to Indonesia, New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Australia was introduced to Guam sometime shortly after World War 2 as a passive stowaway in a military cargo ship. Since its introduction, Guam has suffered major economic, environmental and social impacts: birds, reptiles, ecosystem changes, electrical systems, human health, etc.
With the increasing trade amongst countries in the region, threats of these invasive snakes entering our shores is very high. Fiji is still trying to find ways in preventing the spread of mongoose to our outer islands, an invasive mammal that has threatened birds in the 2 main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu and the accidental or deliberate introduction of brown tree snakes will be far much worse than the mongoose.
James Stanford, a tropical biologist and an expert in alien reptiles based in Guam facilitated the training, said that participants were quite pleased with the content and structure of the training since it was the first for border officials especially Biosecurity Authority of Fiji.
“The training was practical and hands-on focusing on container and cargo inspection, and doing night searches in the forest for invasive snakes”, Mr Stanford added.
Participating organisations included the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, BirdLife International and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti.
The training was funded by the European Union under the project title Island Ecosystems, Local Livelihoods – Combating Invasive Alien Species in the Pacific for the Benefit of Biodiversity and People, which is implemented by NatureFiji-MareqetiViti.
With special thanks to James Stanford and Helen Sykes with her Pacific Boas