Fijian luxury resort Likuliku Lagoon Resort, however, has taken this concept to a whole new level, by actually saving a once-thought extinct species; the Malolo Island Iguana.
In case you didn’t already have enough reasons to visit this amazing resort, you know, the plunge pools, the over-water bungalows, the pristine coral reef and the amazing 5-star cuisine, here’s another: the chance to contribute to saving a once-thought extinct species.
The Malolo Island Iguanas are of the crested variety (Brachylophus vitiensis) and were considered extinct until 2010 when an injured one was discovered at the Resort.
The injured iguana was sent to Kula Park on the main island for care but unfortunately died shortly after arrival. The curator of Kula Park advised visiting researchers Robert Fisher of the US Geological Survey and Peter Harlow of Taronga Zoo of the find and they took the iguana to Suva where it is now a part of the University of South Pacific vertebrate collection.
A tissue sample was taken and sent to San Diego Zoo for DNA analysis. There was bittersweet excitement when six weeks later the results indicated that it was indeed a species thought to be extinct. Fortunately, three months later another junior iguana was found at Malolo Island Resort and then a second at Likuliku Lagoon Resort. Others have since been found and seven are now held in captivity at Likuliku Lagoon Resort for research and breeding purposes.
So there was a clear indication that these rare creatures were alive (but maybe not kicking) on Malolo Island. The manager of Likuliku and Malolo resorts, Steve Anstey, is passionate about these creatures and has invited research specialist Adam Clause from the University of Georgia (USA) to undertake a three-month project that will include surveying, DNA testing and the electronic tagging and releasing of iguanas.
“As a resort company operating in a pristine, sensitive environment such as ours, with ocean and coral reefs on one side and land flora and fauna on the other, we fully recognize the importance of sustainable tourism and believe that development in such areas carries both a legal and moral responsibility to ensure our environment is not degraded through irresponsible activities and practices” comments Steve.
“Our aim is to not only minimize our impact on the extraordinary nature that surrounds us but also, through a range of activities, programs and initiatives, to improve and enhance the environment for challenged species and future generations. The significant work we have done to date with the iguanas and now the launch of Adam's research project demonstrates our serious commitment”