A python hitches a ride with Qantas from Cairns to Port Moresby, PNG.
The story of the snake that hitch-hiked on a Qantas flight earlier last month from Cairns to Papua New Guinea has raised concerns about the risks involved with air and sea transportation aiding the introduction of invasive species into the region.
The news item has been circulated around the world on social media, newspapers and on television. The snake was seen clinging to the wing during the 2 hour flight from Cairns to Port Moresby and It turned out to be a scrub python, reportedly the longest type of snake in Australia, and it must have slithered onto the plane in Cairns. A YouTube clip of the incident has appeared and can be viewed by clicking here.
This incident demonstrates the risk of brown tree snake hitchhiking to Fiji as well. Native to Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the brown tree snake has made a new home in Guam and become infamous worldwide. It likely arrived with military transport movements following World War II. Several decades later, the snake has single handedly decimated the island’s wildlife, exterminating 12 native bird species, six lizard species and two of three bat species.
NatureFiji-MareqetiViti under its invasive species programme are working closely with the Biosecurity of Fiji in drafting risk assessments and identifying management needs for tighter surveillance at the borders to intercept these hitchhikers.
If this snake became established in Fiji, its impact would be far worse than the mongoose, fruit fly, dalo beetle, the African tulip tree and other well known invasives.