Fiji Time: 4:43 PM on Wednesday 21 March

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Dawn Gibson
Saturday, July 19, 2014

AS millions of people celebrated World Snake Day earlier this week, highlighting the plight of the often misunderstood reptile, Fiji is being reminded of the plight of our very own native snakes — the Fiji boa and the burrowing snake.

Both breeds are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species — a list which details information about the planet's most threatened species for animals and plants.

Responding to questions from this newspaper, director of Resort Support and marine consultant Helen Sykes said the biggest threat to Fiji's native snake population was habitat destruction.

"The biggest danger is habitat destruction, as people cut down or burn forest and bush areas," Ms Sykes said.

"In some areas, the Fiji boa is still eaten by humans, or taken as pets by people who do not know how to care of them properly, and so kill them."

When asked about the importance of highlighting the plight of Fiji's endemic species, such as the highly feared snake, she said it was an opportunity to unlearn some of the negative images often associated with the creature.

"Snakes are just animals, part of nature and creation like anything else. The snakes we have in Fiji are small and cannot hurt human beings."

Ms Sykes said one of the roles played by snakes in the ecosystem was to maintain minimal levels of pests.

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