The Mamanuca Environment Society (MES) team up with Fiji Airways in an effort to restore the dry forest habitat at the couple only Likuliku Lagoon Resort on Thursday.
More than 100 trees were planted along the fire breaks in the island gully.
Steve Anstey, the Group General Manager for Ahura Resorts and is also the Treasurer of the MES said the re-discovery of three juvenile Fijian Crested iguanas in 2011 prompted the effort to regenerate dry forest.
“According to some reports, the last iguana was found in Malolo Lailai Island in the late 1800’s. They thought it’s extinct. Imagine the excitement when we found two in early 2011 and another one 10 months later. We are now working closely with the Kula Eco Park with Taronga Zoo in Sydney and San Diego Zoo in California who have already visited the Island to undertake the night surveys and also collect DNA samples”.
“The findings clearly indicate the presence of adult population that resides in the treetops of the remaining dry forest in the island. Research has shown that the sharp decline in their population is mainly due to the decline in dry forest and also the introduction of cats and goats in the island”.
“The Fiji Crested Iguanas are actually on the same level as the Panda Bear in terms of extinction and people don’t realize that how important these creatures are. They are fascinating animals, prehistoric in many ways and we should be taking every effort to preserve them.” said Mr Anstey as he briefed the nine Fiji Airways staff who volunteered to take part in the program.
MES Project Manager Marica Vakacola said MES is proud to join Fiji Airways in spreading the word of conservation.
“Fiji Airways is one of our major sponsor and we want the staff to know what we are doing. We want them to know that because of their involvement, the future generation in Mamanuca Group of Islands will benefit. This is a long term effort and we hope that more staff will take part in the future to promote sustainability. It’s all about giving back to the communities that have given their land for tourism development in the country”.
“We hope that with further discoveries MES together with Likuliku Lagoon Resort will start our own breeding program which will enable us to systematically release them back into their natural habitat,” said Mrs Vakacola.
Inise Ratumaibuca a cabin crew said the program was an eye opener.
“It was very exciting and enjoyable. I recommend more of our staff into this program,” she said.
For Lusiana Tuimanono, a cabin crew for Pacific Sun said she will definitely volunteer to take part in the program again.
“I fell in love with the Island and it painted me a picture of what Fiji is-Paradise. It was fun. The volunteers worked together as a team which made work easier. A big Vinaka vakalevu to Likuliku and MES,” she said.
Nine Fiji Airways staff with five MES volunteers took part in the program that also include ocean and beach clean-up.