Flora and Fauna

FJ
Fiji-crocodile-Volia-athollandersoni Fiji’s Extinct Megafauna

Fiji’s natural environment blankets the entire territory of the islands, offering exceptional biological diversity. Its idyllic beaches border protected marine areas, while its dense forests are home to thousands of native and introduced species.  The many scattered hiking trails and guided tours are popular for both family walks and long-distance expeditions, helping visitors discover the archipelago’s flora and fauna. Many areas are classified as nature Heritage parks and marine sanctuaries and are subject to governmental regulations that protect local species and their habitats, enabling the nation to preserve the environment for future generations.

Table of Contents

Reptiles


Hawksbill Turtle - Flora and fauna
A young Hawksbill Sea Turtle swims along the seabed | Image: Supplied

When you are on your travels across the pristine islands of Fiji, you are more than likely going to come across several of these living dinosaurs, ranging from small geckos crawling along the ceiling in your bure, to the majestic Hawksbill Turtle gliding across the coastal reef system, with the Iguana displaying its raw beauty as it stands proudly on a rock outcrop on the coastline.

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: The following article 5 MYSTERIOUS MYTHOLOGIZED REPTILES OF FIJI starts your journey to discovery.

Amphibians

In the article 3 COLD BLOODED AMPHIBIANS OF FIJI, our team starts the amazing journey of discovering these often ignored classes of animals. With the two endemic frogs, the Fijian ground frog (Platymantis Vitianus) and the smaller tree frog (Platymantis vitiensis), to the dominant cane toad, this one you will definitely observe hopping across the road or pathway whilst traversing across the islands, a formidable character introduced into Fiji in the 1930s by the Fijian Agriculture Department as a biological control agent.

Mammals

Fiji has three very different mammals living in such diverse environments, these are the whale, bat, and the invasive mongoose, the whale is a yearly visitor to the Fijian islands as it migrates from the colder polar regions; to warmer calmer waterers to give birth, with the mongoose introduced into Fiji in 1883 to help with controlling the rat infestations in the sugar cane plantations, and the native Bat, who is one of the longest residents of these beautiful islands, only recently a Bat Sanctuary was formed on Vanua Levu with an area of 55 acres to help nurture and protect their environment and diminishing numbers.

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: Join us as we delve into the world of these amazing animals, in the following article 3 LITTLE & LARGE MAMMALS OF FIJI

Birds


Parrots of Fiji
Parrots of Fiji | Image: Supplied

Birds are Fiji’s most conspicuous wildlife and are a vital component of the nation’s natural heritage. Although small in number, the avifauna abounds with exciting species. They range from the Kula with cultural significance, to the Silktail holding special scientific interest in the international sphere

Approximately one-third of Fiji’s land birds are endemic – being found nowhere else in the world. Many more spectacular birds such as the Blue-crested Broadbill, the Yellow-breasted Musk Parrot, and the Orange Dove are rarely seen by casual observers because they are confined to forests and are never seen in open habitats. Fortunately, there are exceptions, a good example being the Kula or Collared Lory. This spectacular little parrot is equally at home in central Suva as in the forested interior.

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: The following article BIRDS OF FIJI – A BLAZE OF COLOUR’ lists the different species found across the Fijis Archipelago.

Fascinating Insects

In Fiji, color is everywhere. When it’s everywhere at once, it can be as ephemeral as the light reflecting of a rain shower, as sudden as the flapping of the dragonfly wings, or as necessary as a stick insect evolutionary camouflage for natural defense. No matter where you look in Fiji, the bright vivid colors of nature will be along for the journey.

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: In the following article 6 FASCINATING INSECTS OF FIJI, we touch upon the world of insects you might encounter on your travels, ranging from the millions of Cicada emerging from the ground on the eight-year of its lifecycle, transcending from their troglobite behaviour to invading the forest looking for a suitable mate, to Butterflies being amongst nature’s most colour diverse, with over 46 native and one introduced species found across Fiji, not to forget the Beetles, Dragonflies, Moths, and finally the stick Insects.

Extinct Megafauna

As with most islands in the Pacific, the distance between neighboring land masses can be extensive and this has a filtering effect on colonising species. Animals that can fly (birds, bats, and insects) or survive rafting across seas (reptiles and rodents) dominate island fauna, while amphibians and freshwater fish are very rare colonists.

Recently, advances in pale zoology (the scientific study of extinct animals), have led to the discovery that Fiji was once home to a large variety of animals and birds, some considerably larger than their relatives that survive today, which became extinct very soon after the human settlement of the islands. This appears to have been the sad fate of much of Fiji’s original fauna – possibly within only 50 years of initial occupation by humans, some 3,000 years ago.

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: In the following article, FIJI’S EXTINCT MEGAFAUNA we dive deeper into these once-large animals that patrolled the islands, we touch upon the following species: Fiji crocodile (Volia athollandersoni),  Vitilevu giant pigeon (Natunaornis gigoura), Viti Levu (Vitirallus watlingi), Giant Fiji ground frog (Platymantis Megabotoniviti) and the Giant Fiji Megapodes (Megavitiornis Altirostris), with some of the species still existing less inhabited neighboring islands outside the Fijian group today.

Invertebrates


Giant Clams of Fiji
Giant Clams of Fiji | Image: Supplied

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: In the article 4 FIJIAN INVERTEBRATE BEHEMOTHS, we have started our discovery of these amazing animals, the Coconut Crabs the largest land crab in the worldcorals that make up the diverse and natural marine coastline of the Fijian Archipelago, to the spiny lobster crustacean, and the Giant Clams that grace our coastline.  

Video: Catching the Largest Crab in the World.

Seashells

Strolling along the beach collecting shells and little beach trinkets to take home as souvenirs, although perceived as a relatively harmless pastime is extremely environmentally unfriendly. The Shells, crab carapaces, and skeletons of other marine invertebrates all contribute to the process of building our reefs and beaches. These organisms gradually break down, adding limestone to the sandy beach and lagoon areas (MES, 2018). It is important to allow natural processes to run their course. 

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: In the article ‘10 FIJIAN SEASHELLS BY THE SEASHORE‘ we discuss what is a mollusc?, the different classes, and how the mollusc creates its shell, concluding with a few tables listing the various shells you might stumble across.

Plants 

Fiji is home to a myriad of plants with a multitude of colors and forms, ranging from the delicate orchid and its “sumptuous flowers” scattered around the coastlines and forests, the overlooked fruiting bodies of the fungi with their rich deep colours; to the hardy aromatic wood of the sandalwood a highly prized tree during the Sandlewood era in the 1800s. Such a varied spectacle is often taken for granted by the locals but has never failed to intrigue and amaze wildlife enthusiasts who visit our shores. 

IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: In the article 6 SOUL BLOSSOMING PLANTS OF FIJI, we subcategorize the different plants into the following: Traditional Perfume Flowers of Fiji, Fungi, Ferns of Fiji, Indigenous Orchids, Mangroves of Fiji, and Trees.

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