Fiji banded iguanas are bright green lizards with crested spines and long tails, which help them balance while climbing trees. Males have wide blue or light green stripes along their body. Females, on the other hand, are generally solid green but may have a few white or pale blue spots. These lizards have reddish-orange eyes and yellow nostrils.
Until recently, Fiji banded iguanas were thought to be the same species as Lau banded iguanas. Further analysis in 2008, revealed them to be two separate species.
Fiji banded iguanas are only found on the Fijian islands. They are most prevalent on the wet central islands, generally between 656 and 1,640 feet (200 and 500 meters) above sea level. They live in the mesic to moist forests of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Ovalau, Viwa, Kadavu and their associated islands.
These lizards tend to prefer the plants found in wet forests. They are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees. Therefore, they are found in areas with high vegetation and trees at least 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Like other iguanas, they are also strong swimmers.
It is estimated that the Fiji banded iguana population has decreased by 50 percent in the last 35 to 40 years, and these iguanas are now extinct on some of the islands.
They have experienced extensive habitat loss due to mining, forest burning, logging and agriculture. Human development brings feral cats and black rats, which prey on these lizards. They have also experienced increased predation following the introduction of the small Asian mongoose.
Fiji banded iguanas are protected from international trade due to their status on CITES Appendix I. However, there are no specific conservation measures in place. The species would benefit from local education programs about its importance, as well as from the designation of protected lands, such as national parks. Pest eradication measures should also be taken on islands throughout the lizard's range where mongoose and green iguanas have been introduced.
You Can Help
- Support regional conservation initiatives by donating time, money or goods to organizations that work toward the conservation of these and other threatened lizards.
- Practice ecotourism by thinking about the environment, conservation and local people when you travel. Do your research, and look to visit, support or volunteer with organizations dedicated to the protection of wildlife during your travels.
- Support conservation initiatives at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
- Share the story of the Fiji banded iguana with others. Simply increasing awareness and educating others about the threats facing this species can contribute to the conservation of these animals.