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Ahura Resorts Fiji Set Up A Nursery Likuliku Lagoon Resort and Malolo Island Resort welcome new editions to their rare Iguana family

September 19, 2017 Resort News No Comments Email Email

Ahura Resorts is delighted to announce the arrival of their first Fijian Crested Iguana babies bred in captivity.

There has been great excitement as one of the captive bred females, Elevuka, laid four eggs back in January. The first egg hatched the last week of July, the next hatched 3 days after.

Unfortunately two were lost but the two thriving survivors are enjoying life in a separate nursery enclosure away from the adults. They are fed with grated carrots, apples, pawpaw and lettuce every second day – the other days, they are being fed with hibiscus leaves and flowers.

Guests are able to see these cute new family members when they visit the Iguana Sanctuary at Likuliku Lagoon Resort.

‘Since they are too tiny for some of their physical features to develop, we haven’t named, tagged or identified the sex yet. It will be a few more months before we are able to do all that” said proud step- dad Sia Rasalato, Group Environment Manager for Ahura Resorts (Likuliku’s owning/management company).

“There is even more good news as it has been raining iguanas out in the wild too which indicates that our invasive species management program is working.  Recently, we discovered three – 2 males and 1 female in the wild that hadn’t been tagged or captured before, and the following day, one just dropped out of a tree in front of a staff member. All four have been had its measurements taken, weighed, tagged and released back into their natural habitat”, adds Sia enthusiastically.

“As a resort company operating in a pristine and sensitive wilderness environment such as ours – with ocean and coral reefs on one side and land flora and fauna on the other, we fully recognize the importance of sustainable tourism and believe that development in such areas carries both a legal and moral responsibility to ensure our environment is not degraded though irresponsible activities and practices”, says Steve Anstey, Ahura Resorts, Group General Manager.

“Our aim is to not only minimize our footprint and impact on the extraordinary nature that surrounds us but also, through a range of activities, programs and initiatives, improve and enhance the environment for imperilled species for future generations. The significant work we have done to date with the iguanas can now be celebrated via this recent breeding success” continues Steve.

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 “finger print,” 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 eco-systems 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 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 eco-system, and consequently re-plant them 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 six years. The team has carried out major control of feral cat and rat populations, and has also assisted with the reforestation project which has now become a focal point.

Group Environment Manager, Sia manages the Dry Forest project in addition to developing and overseeing the regeneration work on the Ahura Resorts’ land leases. Sia is also responsible for the management of the Iguana catch, tag and release program and the on-site captive breeding program. He also works closely with the Mamanuca Environment Society to ensure conservation and preservation of our marine and reef protected areas.

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