FIJI SCIENTISTS STUDY RARE IGUANA SPECIES

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Villagers on Qamea Island fear the unknown beast

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 17, 2009) – Fiji’s Quarantine Department is sending a second team to further investigate the discovery of a rare species of iguana on Qamea Island in the country’s north.

Director Bio-Security Foraete Hiagi told FijiLive that the specimen had been brought down to the University of the South Pacific where experts were working on it.

"Iguanas are already scary looking," Hiagi said, on reports that Qamea villagers had described the creature as fearsome, and that it was brought in from the United States by a foreigner in 2003.

[PIR editor’s note: Qamea Island is three miles off Taveuni Island, which is off the southeastern coast of Vanua Levu, the second of Fiji’s two large islands and north of the country’s main island of Viti Levu.]

A villager told a local daily that women were frightened to go out netting in shallow waters or the mangroves because of the presence of the animal.

Meanwhile, Hiagi said tests would have to be done to determine whether the iguana, first reported by the villagers in mid-2009, was of local or foreign origin.

He said a team made up of animal and fisheries experts and those from USP would be leaving for Qamea to find out the circumstances under which the discovery had been made.

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