6 June 2024

Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has sent a circular to every province asking officials to look for iguanas in public parks or the wild and to report back, so they can be captured to prevent them from spreading.

Iguanas, a non-native species in Thailand, have been sighted in the wild in several provinces and it is believed that they have either been released from captivity or they escaped.

The department’s director-general, Atthaphon Charoenchansa, said that iguanas have been sighted in the Phatthana Nikhom district of Lop Buri, Kham Chanod in Udon Thani and Cha-am district in Phetchaburi province.

In Pattana Nikhom, for an example, green iguanas of various sizes have been sighted more than 300 times around Phraya Dern Thong mountain. Their presence has caused concern among farmers, because they are known to have eaten crops.

Atthaphon admitted that it is not known how many iguanas are now in the wild in the country, but the department is concerned that the reptiles may have an impact on the ecological system, although they are tame.

He also said that the department will invite herpetologists and ecological experts, as well as representatives of exotic animal associations, for a meeting next week to discuss how best to deal with the iguanas found in the wild.

He said that he will ask owners of iguanas to inform the authorities about the animals in their possession, adding that the department will propose restrictions on the import of iguanas.

Iguanas are listed as a Category 1 controlled animal under the Wild Animal Conservation and Protection Act. Releasing them into the wild is an offence, subject to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of 50,000 baht on conviction, said Atthaphon, adding that, if the owners do not want to keep the animals any more, they can donate them to the department.

According to records, 238,774 reptiles belonging to 199 species were imported from 72 countries between 1990 and 2022. These include 5,877 iguanas from 11 countries.