After a very long time, the Indo-Pacific tree gecko, Hemiphyllodactylus typus, was spotted by a biodiversity survey team in Rewa Delta, Fiji. According to Nunia Thomas of Nature Fiji - Mareqeti Viti this was her first encounter with this species in her 10 years of herpetofauna research in Fiji.
A native to Fiji, this wide-ranging Indo-Pacific species has been provisionally assessed as Least Concern for inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM.
“Predominantly a species of disturbed habitats, this gecko was once commonly found in urban Suva, but has been displaced by the more aggressive, introduced, house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) in most places," Ms. Thomas explained.
The survey team which consisted of 40 experts from the Institute of Applied Science (IAS) – University of the South Pacific, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, Fiji Museum and Nature Fiji undertook a comprehensive biodiversity assessment of the Rewa Delta looking at fisheries, mangrove forest, invasive species, insects, birds, mammals and culturally significant sites.
In the two week assessment the team covered an estimated land area of 86 square kilometres located between the Provinces of Rewa and Tailevu.
“A lot of interesting findings were made during the survey. I am amazed at the number of communities that rely on the mangrove ecosystems for their livelihood ," said Marika Tuiwawa of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium.
This assessment is an activity under IUCN's MESCAL project which aims to increase climate change resilience and improve livelihoods through co-management and restoration of mangroves and associated ecosystems.
The survey results will not only act as a baseline for the MESCAL Fiji project, but will also fill information gaps at the national level; providing data to the Fiji National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (NBSAP), the Mangrove Management Committee, the Integrated Coastal Management Committee and the Wetlands Steering committee.
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