Pirating Iguanas?

The Fiji Island Banded Iguana (Brachylophus fasciatus) is an endangered species due to loss of habitat and is protected by an international treaty against trading in endangered animals.

A man has been arrested for stealing three of them from a nature reserve in Fiji in 2002 and smuggling them back to his home in California by hiding them (I'm not making this up) in his prosthetic leg.

Arrr, ye scurvy sea dog, is that an iguana in your peg leg or are ye just happy to see me?

It is believed he was breeding them. During an undercover investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the man told an agent that four years ago he had sold three iguanas for $32,000.

Iguangas found in his home will be placed in breeding programs at zoos in the USA.

If convicted, he could be placed in a human zoo (jail) for up to five years.

Too good fer the likes of 'im - walk the plank, says I!


nzm said...

Sorry Pandabonium, you're a tad late for International Talk like a Pirate Day!

Hidden in a false leg - that's bizarre!

I wonder why they don't return recovered endangered species back to their native lands - is it a quarantine issue?

They used to have iguanas in a cage at the Museum in Suva in the Botanical Gardens. Could never work out why, but it was fascinating to watch them.

Pandabonium said...

NZM - Where ye been? Off burying your doubloons I'd wager. Sorry - got stuck on the pirate talk.

As for returning the critters...Not sure how they decide those things. I think the lizards they found in the guy's house were descendants of the stolen ones, so whose are they?

ladybug said...

Very interesting! I once helped an American professor get some frozen & live "specimens" out of Tahiti during an airlines/political blockade (had something to do w/Australia) - this was the early nineties....

This was all part of my work when I lived in Washington D.C., basically helping people who were traveling (mostly medical emergencies though).

Anyhoo, He had to get them to Brisbane where he and some colleagues were going to study them (I remember having to call a university in San Diego to confirm his credit card info...). He sent me a nice letter and a gift card.

Now I hope they weren't endangered or illegal!

Pandabonium said...

LB - that's an interesting story. I wonder what was going on between Tahiti and Australia then. So you were working in the State Dept.?

QUASAR9 said...

I mean I know the Aruaco Indians in the Andes still prize Iguana as a delicacy (on special occassions)

But who pays $32,000 for three iguanas - lol!

No, I shouldn't laugh if they are endangered, nor at the fact that he smuggled them in a prosthetic leg - I presume he bound them hand & foot around a stick, ready to bbq

QUASAR9 said...

PS - By the titke, I half expected to see the iguana wearing an eye patch - lol!

Pandabonium said...

Quasar9 - people pay those prices to collect them, not eat them - like the trade in exotic birds and fish. Still a huge amount of money to own a lizard!

maybe we'll have "talk like an iguana day".

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Yes, I read that story. It took five years to catch him! So how long does an iguana live?
There's so much talk of turtles at present in Fiji - everyone and his cat and dog are having a go in 'Your Say' in the Fiji Times.

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - glad he got caught anyway, even if it took 5 years. As for turtles or any other creature, cultural practice is no reason to fail to adapt to new conditions.

The global population is over 6.5 billion now, on its way to 9 billion, so something has to change if we are to preserve our environment, and if we don't, well, we're all in for a great deal of hurt, to put it mildly.

LadyBug said...

No, actually working for a private company providing services for folks traveling abroad - you could buy it as separate "insurance" or sometimes it came w/your credit card. It was expensive, but if I was traveling in a 3rd world nation and needed to be Medevac'd out, I sure would buy it just in case. American Express had a program called "Global Assist" (probably only Gold or Platinum card members get something like it now), and if you needed help I might've been on the other end of the phone line.

Taught me alot of things, like most people forget their antibiotics or birth control pills. Now it's easy, but back then we'd conference a pharmacist w/the client's home pharmacist to get the prescription filled. Couldn't do controlled substances though (Codeine, Morphine, etc.)- had several calls from some addicts. Also, bring your contact/eye prescription w/you in case you break your glasses.

Sometimes the American Embassy would refer us to non-clients, 'cuz our company could get things done...for a price. My sister did a bad case in Russia, some young guy had a bad fall in the Urals..had to be medevac'd to London. The parents ended up practically bankrupt.

Lots of old people having falls while taking their big trip to europe, that or simply dropping dead...Remreps (Repatriation of Remains) were not fun, mostly because the spouse was left having to deal us, a foreign government, and a ruined trip.

Africa was the worst in terms of medical emergencies, no infrastructure at all. Basically, as long as we got the financial go-ahead, it was just medevac the client to either South Africa or France (which ever was closer).

It was a great job, I learned alot about logistics. Wouldn't want to do it today though, too stressful!

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug - that does sound like an interesting job. I get insurance through a British company when I travel - covers medical, evacuation and so on - wherever I go, except the USA. Not terribly expensive either, considering. American Express was always helpful - back when I had a business and carried one of those.

Remeber Karl Malden in a trench coat asking, "what would you do? what would you do?"

QUASAR9 said...

lol Pandabonium is that
"talk like an iguana"
or walk like an iguana.

PS - I did gather they were not pating $32,000 for a gastronomic delicacy - though some people are known to pay those prices for a bottle of wine

PPS - I shared a hut with a couple of iguanas (male & female) for several days, and grew rather fond of them.

Pandabonium said...

Quasar9 - "walk like an iguana" makes more sense. thanks.

you said, "I shared a hut with a couple of iguanas (male & female) for several days, and grew rather fond of them."

That reminds of a movie with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner - "Night of the Iguana" (1964).