Brachylophus vitiensis

Fiji Crested Iguana

Stats

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
Range: Fiji Islands
Population: ~13,000
Size: Maximum up to 9.5″ in length from snout to vent and 31.5″ including the tail; weight up to 14 oz
Threats: Habitat loss of native forest trees; Predation by introduced domestic cats, mongoose, and rats.
fiji

Species Information

  • The Critically Endangered Fiji Crested Iguana is around 13,000, with 12,000 of those individuals occurring on the tiny 70 hectare island of Yadua Taba. The remaining estimate of less than 1,000 individuals in total are scattered among 14 other islands.
  • They are an arboreal species found in coastal dry forest habitat, which is often fragmented and considered Fiji’s most endangered habitat.
  • Habitat loss remains the biggest threat, as all three species of Pacific Iguanas are arboreal foliage feeders that depend on a small number of native forest trees for the leaves, flowers, and fruit that they eat. Feral domestic cats, and introduced mongoose and rats are a serious predation threat to this species on islands where they co-occur with Crested Iguanas.
  • Because of the success of recovery efforts on the island of Yadua Taba, the species had become a local celebrity and is used as a symbol for Fiji biodiversity conservation. 
  • A Species Action Plan for all Fijian iguanas is currently being prepared. Conservation recommendations will need to focus on invasive predator control, habitat protection, improved forestry and agricultural practices, and education and outreach to local communities.

IIF Grants Received

Eradicating Cats on Monu and Macuata Islands, Fiji

Peter Harlow
$4,958

Completion of the IUCN Fijian Iguana (Brachylophus sp.) Recovery/Strategic Plan 2018–2023

Kim Lovich
$7,925

Fijian Iguana Conservation through Long-term Survivorship Monitoring of Captive Head-started and then Released Crested Iguanas (Brachylophus) to Monuriki Island

Kim Lovich
$10,500

Fijian Iguana Conservation through Development of a New Ranger Program for Macuata Island

Kim Lovich
$10,200

Population Assessments and Conservation Genetics Analyses of Fijian Iguana (Brachylophus sp.)

Robert Fisher
$10,000

Population Assessments and Conservation Genetics Analyses of Fijian Iguana (Brachylophus sp.)

Robert Fisher
$8,000

Urgent Conservation Action for the Yaqaga Island Iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis), in Fiji

Dick Watling
$6,280

In 2009 the villagers of Yaqaga Island reported the presence of the first iguana specimen on their island in living memory. This unique crested iguana may represent a distinct species and the funding provided by IIF will allow biologists to fully implement a conservation program for this unique island species by mapping out suitable habitat, assessing existing populations, implementing a cat trapping and eradication program, and developing a set of training and education materials so the local community can become fully engaged in the program.

Population Assessments and Conservation Genetics Analyses of Fijian Iguana (Brachylophus sp.)

Robert Fisher
$12,000

This project will build on previous work done in 2009–2010 by doing more extensive surveys and genetic testing. More intensive surveys will provide population estimates for both the new species of crested iguana and the previously known species of banded iguana to determine conservation priorities for this genus. A microsatellite library to document and further examine the genetics of the entire genus will also be developed to assist in future conservation and management of wild and captive populations.

Banded Iguana (Brachylophus sp.) Species Assessment of the North Eastern Fijian Islands

Robert Fisher
$6,000

Recent genetic and morphological research on Fijian Iguanas (genus Brachylophus) has shown that there are three living species in the genus and indicated that there may be more undescribed diversity in the genus. This research also identified that the northern large islands have never been assessed for iguanas and although it’s known that there are iguanas on these islands none were included in the genetics or morphological analysis. This work will help to more completely describe the diversity of living species in the genus Brachylophus, and is necessary to begin conservation planning for the Banded Iguanas. To date most conservation actions have been focused on the Crested Iguanas.

Last Chance to Maintain Genetic Diversity in the Fijian Crested Iguanas (Brachylophus vitiensis)

Peter Harlow
$13,500

$4,500 will be used for negotiations with tribal land owners, and $9,000 to follow, pending granting of permission to move iguanas.

Conservation Biology of the Critically Endangered Fijian Crested Iguana, Brachylophus vitiensis

Suzanne Morrison, Peter Harlow, and Scott Keogh
$5,000

This project is a natural history study, but one with long-term conservation implications for this iconic animal and for Fiji. Basic information on breeding biology, habitat use, habitat assembly and resilience, diet, and recruitment of young will be used to inform a sound conservation program for this lizard with the ultimate goal of establishing additional viable populations through translocations and reintroductions. In addition, information will be collected on two species that pose potential threats to the iguanas and the ecosystem, Pacific Rats and Crazy Ants.

Conservation of the Critically Endangered Fijian Crested Iguana

J. Scott Keogh, Peter Harlow, and Suzanne Morrison
$3,000

This IIF grant provides support to the ongoing natural history study of the Fijian Crested Iguana on Yadua Taba that will help answer questions regarding the ecological role they play in the their native forests. Habitat use, reproductive ecology, and juvenile recruitment will be studied.