Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taveuni Islanders Wants Reptile Destroyed

by Theresa Ralogaivau

Thursday, January 21, 2010
THE vanua of Cakaudrove has pleaded for State intervention to contain and destroy a reptile that has stirred alarm on the two islands in the province.
The reptile, which is thought to be a type of iguana smuggled into the country by a tourist, is said to be prevalent on Qamea Island and was recently spotted on Taveuni.
Tui Cakau's spokesperson, Epeli Matata, said the children were frightened of the creature and were staying away from beaches and plantations.
"They're afraid because when it was spotted in Somosomo Village last month it chased children who threw sticks at it to chase it off," he said.
"The children are staying away from the waterfront, even some adults.
"When they're sent to bring firewood and coconuts from the plantation they make excuses because they are scared."
Agriculture permanent secretary Colonel Mason Smith has called on islanders to remain calm as help was on the way.
A team of three - a quarantine official, a paravet and the ministry's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Robin Archari, will be on Taveuni today to investigate.
The team has been tasked with determining the reptile's habits, species, nesting sites, location and an estimate of its numbers.
"This team will supplement the team already in place at Waiyevo," Colonel Smith said.
"We need to determine the species, what it eats and whether or not it is a threat to the natural flora and fauna or wildlife.
"Based on the findings and with further consultation, we will decide on a suitable eradication program."
Meanwhile, the creature that Lovonivonu villagers captured remains caged in the agricultural compound at Waiyevo.
A Lovonivonu villager said the creature, about 1.6 meters long, was caught on Monday and was placed in a parrot cage.
"When it was on the village grounds, everyone just stood around and it looked too scared to move," the villager said.
"It's scales changed colour when it climbed up the trees and people just couldn't stop staring at it."

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