Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Crested Iguana of Fiji
Fiji Post Limited is proud to commemorate the magnificent creature, Brachylophus vitiensis and to bring attention to its protection and ongoing survival. By collaborating  with the WWF organization, Fiji Post Limited issued a set of four stamps feature Brachylophus vitiensis in their habitat on October 2010.

The issue stamps presented in many forms, single stamps, miniature sheet which composed of two set stamps, and local First Day Cover .

The Fiji crested iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis) is a critically endangered species of iguana native to some of the northwestern islands of the Fijiian archipelago, where it is found in dry forest. They are only found in Fiji on the dry leeward islands off Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. They have been found in the Mamanucas, Yasawas, Mali and Macuata Islands.

The Fiji crested iguana is a large stocky lizard distinguished from the Fiji banded iguana by the presence of three narrow, cream to white colored bands on males, rather than the broader bluish bands of the latter species. These whitish bands often have chevrons of black scales close to them.
The Fiji crested iguana is distinguished by its larger size growing to 76 centimetres  in length and weighing as much as 300 grams.

It is further distinguished by the presence of a taller spiny "crest" on its back with spines as long as 1.5 centimetres  running from the nape of the neck to the base of its tail, and its ability to rapidly change color from green to black when aroused.

The Fiji crested iguana is largely solitary, coming together only to mate or confront each other. Displays of territorial defense include head bobbing and the darkening of body color. Males also communicate with females by head bobbing but the speed and duration is different to that shown in aggression.
The Fiji crested iguana are herbivorous feeding on the leaves, fruit, and flowers of trees and shrubs, particularly hibiscus flowers of the Vau tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus). 

The breeding season occurs during the months of March and April, with courtship and mating commencing in January. 

The Fiji crested iguana is oviparous and has one of the longest incubation periods of any reptile at 189 days. Females guard the nest of four to six eggs, which is unusual for iguanids. Hatchlings emerge from their eggs in the rainy season and obtain moisture by licking wet leaves.
The biggest threat this iguana faces is habitat loss due to fires, storms, agricultural development, and competition from feral goats. Goats were introduced to Yadua Taba in 1972. 
After the discovery of the Fiji crested iguana, the island was declared a sanctuary and all but a few goats were removed and fires banned.
A secondary threat is introduced predators in the forms of rats, mongooses, and cats which prey on the iguanas and their eggs. Additionally the iguana has been hunted as a food source and for the illegal animal trade.

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