2012 Captive Breeding for Monuriki Island
Report submitted by Peter Harlow, Taronga Conservation Society, Australia
Between April 2010 and February 2012, 21 Crested Iguanas were captured on tiny Monuriki Island (40 hectares) in the Mamanuca Group in Fiji and transported to captive breeding facilities at Kula Eco Park, Korotoga, Fiji. The Crested Iguana population on Monuriki had been low and declining for years, so permission was given by the Fijian land-owning clan to remove the remaining iguanas for captive breeding at Kula Eco Park, and return their offspring when vegetation has recovered after goat removal. Kula Eco Park is a conservation breeding center in Fiji. So far, 19 of the 21 wild-caught founders have bred and are genetically represented among 49 captive-bred offspring iguanas.
The Crested Iguanas on Monuriki are genetically distinct from all other populations, and they are the largest extant iguana in the Pacific. In late 2011, feral goats and Pacific Rats were eradicated from the island, and as the vegetation has now significantly recovered, the first release of captive bred Monuriki iguanas is planned for 2015.
Since international funding ceased in 2012, Kula Eco Park have been funding the captive breeding project themselves, with some recent additional funding provided by the Dutch Iguana Foundation.