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Invasive species

Ana Madigibuli
Saturday, July 15, 2017

As custodians of Fiji's natural heritage, every Fijian can protect Fiji's endangered species by ensuring that invasive species do not enter Fiji's forest ecosystems or waterways. Invasive species, according to NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, are plants and animals which after being introduced into an island or area establish themselves and spread naturally in the ecosystem, and have a negative impact on their new environment.

"Our research in the past 10 years has confirmed that cats have a serious negative impact on our ground-breeding birds such as the collared petrel on Gau Island. Most of the dead petrels discovered by our Gau team had died due to predation by cats. We have video footage of a cat pouncing upon a vulnerable petrel as it exits from its burrow."

Through the partnership of various organisations, Fiji has been able to demonstrate that rats can be eradicated from an island. With sound biosecurity protocols, these islands can remain rat free, and native fauna and flora can recover. Some islands that have been eradicated of rats are: the Ringgold islands, Vatu I Ra, Monuriki and Mabualau.

NatureFiji-MareqetiViti and BirdLife International are currently revisiting these islands as part of the standard monitoring protocol to confirm their rat-free status and the effectiveness of the biosecurity protocols.

We can all participate in ensuring that invasive species do not have a negative impact on our native wildlife. Some basic helpful actions are:

1. Neuter pet cats and dogs;

2. Do not release unwanted cats and dogs into the forest - they will predate on our native wildlife;

3. Conduct basic biosecurity checks on luggage and boats when travelling inter-island. Some species to check for are: rats, mongoose, flower pot snake, cats, mynah birds, ants and bulbul;

4. Keep goats fenced - goats are a serious threat to the endemic Fiji crested iguanas in that they eat all the plants that iguanas feed on, and do not allow vegetation to regrow.

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