Immediate Success for Fiji’s first Endangered Species Captive Breeding Programme.
The Monoriki Crested Iguana is a distinctive form of the better known Crested Iguana from Yadua Taba, Bua, but is known only from Monu and Monuriki islands in the Mamanuca Group.
In a series of surveys Dr Peter Harlow, Curator of Reptiles at the Taronga Park Zoo and Pita Biciloa, the Chief Ranger at Yadua Taba found a population of less than 40 on Monuriki island.
The island itself was very badly degraded with no regeneration of the forest because of an excessive number of goats running wild.
The National Trust for Fiji together with the Kula Eco Park persuaded the landowners to allow a captive breeding programme to be undertaken, the first of its kind in Fiji.
In return for removing all the goats and allowing a captive population of 20 individuals to be to be taken to Kula EcoPark, all the progeny would be released back on Monuriki once the goats were removed.
A purpose built captive breeding facility has been constructed at the Kula Eco Park and after much searching on the island, 18 iguanas have been translocated to the facility. In the meantime, the landowners have been removing the goats from Monuriki.
The whole programme was rewarded with a quick success when one of the females laid five eggs soon after arriving in Kula and these hatched several months later. Four of these survived and are doing well.