How Likuliku Lagoon Resort Is Saving the Crested Iguana
Visiting the Iguana Sanctuary at Likuliku Lagoon Resort in Fiji
Fiji is one of the most visually-striking countries in the world. This archipelago of more than 300 islands has become a tourist destination complete with some of the most glamorous resorts in the world, white sandy beaches, and crystal blue waters. But Fiji is much more than a vacation spot. It’s also home to one of the leading Iguana sanctuaries in the world. The Crested Iguana was considered extinct for nearly a quarter century until one was discovered near Likuliku Lagoon Resort in 2010. Since then, this resort has been working to restore the crested Iguana to its rightful habitat.
As an avid world traveler, animal conservationist, and previous Iguana owner I recently spent time at the Likuliku Lagoon Resort and had the opportunity to see the Iguana sanctuary in person. The resort’s conservation efforts have been so successful that they’ve started releasing some Iguanas back into the wild.
Saving the Crested Iguana
The Likuliku Lagoon Resort is one of the only hotels in the world with an animal sanctuary. This unique resort is made up of ten thatch huts sitting on the water, connected to the rest of the island by a narrow footbridge. This also happens to be the natural habitat of the Crested Iguana. Long thought to be extinct, the Crested Iguana was spotted in 2010. Soon after, the resort decided to invest in a sanctuary for this endangered species.
With tourism on the rise in Fiji, many non-native invasive species have been brought to the island over the years, including mongooses, rats, cats and goats. One of the first steps toward saving the Crested Iguana was to remove these non-native species from the island. Many of these animals have preyed on the Crested Iguana over the years, while others have become competition for food.
The resort started a catch, tag and release program as a way of tracking the Iguana population on the island. This eventually grew into a captive breeding program, with the resort providing a safe environment for the Iguanas to breed and mature. The resort has also been working with the San Diego Zoo on the project. A team of animal conservation scientists visits the resort several times a year to help measure, weigh and collect DNA samples from the iguanas.
The Importance of Animal Conservation
Traditionally, we see between one and five species go extinct every year, but scientists estimate that we’re losing between 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate. Insect, mammal, reptile and bird populations are dropping across the globe. As human beings, we share this planet with so many wonderful creatures and many of them are going extinct due to our actions in many cases resulting in dire consequences globally.
I send my thanks to the hardworking men and women of the Likuliku Lagoon Resort for restoring the Crested Iguana population. It’s our responsibility to protect these creatures and make sure all living things can survive on this earth.
Photo credit: Likuliku Lagoon Resort