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Fiji Time: 4:12 AM on Friday 25 April

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Bounty on pest iguanas

Dawn Gibson
Friday, June 14, 2013

ONE of the environment's pests and threats to Fiji's endemic iguanas is the notorious American iguana, a reptile which has a bounty on its head.

The American Iguana Bounty Program, launched on Wednesday by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti (NFMV), is aimed at ridding the country of the pest.

At present, the reptile is known to be on the islands of Qamea, Matagi and Taveuni, with some of the first sightings dating back to 2003.

"All of the iguanas captured by the public are to be brought in alive and the person who brings it in will be rewarded according to the iguana type — adult, juvenile or egg," said NFMV director Nunia Thomas.

The price for capturing an adult American iguana is $10, a juvenile one is $5 and an egg is $0.50cents.

Authority CEO Waisiki Gonemaituba said: "We've been given about $120,000 for the eradication program — not just the bounty program — all the different strategies."

NFMV reported that female American iguanas could lay between 20 and 72 eggs at one time.

"And we have also estimated that the American iguanas' nesting and mating season is between April and September, that's when we noticed female iguanas were full of eggs," Ms Thomas said.

According to a 2011 count of American iguanas, it's estimated there are 2400 American iguanas in Fiji — 400 adults and 2000 juveniles.

"So from then until now, those juveniles should be of breeding ability," Ms Thomas said.