Likuliku Lagoon Resort’s Fijian Crested Iguana Sanctuary welcomes more newborns
Based at Likuliku Lagoon Resort, the Ahura Resorts Iguana Sanctuary is delighted to welcome more new arrivals of the critically endangered* Fijian crested iguana.
These new captive-bred hatchlings bring the total to 5 born in the last year in what is the only facility of its kind in the world to successfully breed this species under “natural” conditions. This essentially means no laboratories or incubators, and that the adult female laid her eggs in the dirt at the bottom of the cage as she would do in the wild. Other captive programs and zoos practise incubation where they actually dig the eggs out of the dirt and incubate them.
Resort guests are able to see these new and existing family members when they visit the Iguana Sanctuary based at Likuliku Lagoon Resort.
The discovery of a Fiji crested iguana in 2010 at Likuliku Lagoon Resort kicked off an incredible research journey, sparked by the species’ classification as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Fiji crested iguanas are naturally found only in Fiji, and their presence is therefore beneficial to the eco-tourism economy. Each island that is lucky enough to still have an iguana population will have their own unique genetic “fingerprint”, and each island often supports an iguana species different from all others in Fiji. They may look similar and be close relatives, but they are different and only DNA sampling of iguanas will indicate which island they are from. The iguanas on Malolo were thought to be extinct for over 25 years before the exciting rediscovery in 2010.
Like most animals on the brink of extinction, the demise of the Fiji iguana has been largely due to the destruction of their natural forest habitat through human activities and the introduction of non-native animals including rats, cats, mongoose and goats which either eat the iguanas or eat their food.
Dry forest is one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet and is crucial to the survival of the Fiji iguana and other wildlife. Unfortunately, only small pockets of dry forest remain on Malolo Island and the islands of the Mamanuca group. Ahura Resorts is helping to combat this with a major regeneration program including the first Dry Forest Nursery established on the island to grow the various required species to create this unique ecosystem, plus the development of a seed bank. This will ensure the various species can continue to be planted on the island to re-establish this crucial iguana habitat.
The US Geological Survey, San Diego Zoo and Taronga Zoo have been valuable partners with Ahura Resorts over the last seven years. The team has carried out major control of feral cat and rat populations, and has also assisted with the reforestation project that has now become a focal point. Recently, the first “benefactors” group from San Diego zoo visited Likuliku to help out with the dry forest restoration and crested iguana conservation.
The arrival of the latest newborns was also perfect timing for World Iguana Day on 8 September.
*As listed on the The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in Appendix 1 of CITES (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species)