Ban on green iguana imports




Bangkok Post Public Company Limited


The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment yesterday announced a temporary ban on the import of green iguanas in response to fears their surging population will damage the environment and ecosystem. Atthapol Charoenchansa, acting director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), said yesterday the ban followed reports that large numbers of green iguanas were sighted in natural habitats and public areas in Lop Buri province in the Central Plains recently. The reptiles were reported to have eaten and damaged agricultural produce belonging to local residents and may have originated from a resort in Lop Buri that has just closed. The population of green iguanas has rapidly increased, he said, affecting the environment and ecosystem. The iguanas found were of non-native species not indigenous to Thailand. It is not clear why they were found in the natural habitats, he said. Mr Atthapol said the order was issued under Article 9 of the Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act BE 2562. “People who have iguanas, please neither release them into nature nor give them to the department because feeding them is costly. Please take care of them until they die,’’ he said. “We have introduced a temporary ban on their import. All owners of green iguanas should report how many they have to our officials. The ban will be abolished if we can bring them under control,’’ Mr Atthapol said. So far, 244 individuals have reported possessing a total of 3,419 iguanas between them — 982 of them in Chon Buri province alone. He said a survey has been launched by the department to ascertain the actual population, and if this measure proves successful, imports may be allowed to resume, he added.