Cruel attacks on Taiwan’s invasive iguanas draw int’l concern

綠鬣蜥 | Green iguanas (Courtesy of Agriculture Department/農業處)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Green iguanas became a popular pet in Taiwan ten years ago but many were later abandoned due to their large size. The number of iguanas has since proliferated in the south, affecting the growth of crops.  

Since last year, the local government has been encouraging people to catch green iguanas by promoting the removal program of non-native species.   

However, the government has no rules and regulations for the removal program. Some people reportedly set off firecrackers in iguanas and shot them with bows and arrows, drawing concern from foreign media.  

The Guardian reported on Friday that the images of killing iguanas had caused protests from animal protection groups that call on the government to implement regulations on the removal of invasive animals as soon as possible.  

Green iguanas (Courtesy of Forestry Bureau/林務局)

The Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (East) said on Wednesday that local and provincial government campaigns encourage people to remove invasive animals, but lack guidelines suggesting humane methods for people to refer to.  

In this regard, the Forestry Bureau said on Wednesday that it has discussed the regulations of capturing invasive species with experts.  

However, the relevant rules have not yet been made public, the Forestry Bureau said. The representative stressed that the government would consider publishing the rules.   

The Forestry Bureau added that for the iguana, the government will ask Chen Tien-hsi, an associate professor at the Institute of Wildlife Conservation of National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, to step up publicity and education training in cooperation with the local governments.    

As for green iguana being abused and killed spread on the Internet, the animal welfare officials said that the county and city governments have collected evidence and would investigate any acts of cruelty.