• Emoia parkeri

The Fijian copper-headed skink is a medium sized skink, with adults measuring 43-52 mm snout-vent length (SVL) and hatchlings 23-26 mm SVL.
Also known as: Fijian Copper-Headed Skink
Local Names:

Description

The Fijian copper-headed skink is a medium sized skink, with adults measuring 43-52 mm snout-vent length (SVL) and hatchlings 23-26 mm SVL. The tail length is 1.5 times longer than the SVL. Like other skinks, the Fijian copper-headed skink has five digits, with the fourth toes being the longest. The Fijian copper-headed skink is quite distinguishable from other skinks by the dorsal surface colour which is greenish copper in colour, with a bright copper head and neck. It also has a dark brown or nearly black eye stripe. The back and sides are dotted with dark brown scales. The ventral surface has a coppery ivory chin and throat while the remainder is a light yellowish green, with an occasionally emerald green belly.

Distribution

This endemic skink has been recorded from Viti Levu, Kadavu, Ovalau and Taveuni.

Habitat Ecology and Behaviour

The Fijian copper-headed skink occurs in rainforest (from the coast to 500m), secondary forest and the drier forests of western Viti Levu. Observations of this skink have primarily been on tree trunks with buttresses, deep fissures, or a covering of epiphytes or vines. They have also been observed foraging on the ground.


Like other skinks in Fiji, the Fijian copper-headed skink is a diurnal species and is semi-arboreal. These are quite active and alert lizards that stop and bask only briefly. They do not move far from their home log or tree.


Little is known of its reproductive biology, and has never been studied in detail. However, to date, only a single clutch of eggs has been found just above ground level in an earth-filled crevice.

Threats

Because of the lack of data available on this species, we cannot be certain of the threats to this endemic skink. However, we can assume, that like the other populations of our native skinks, they are greatly threatened by introduced mammals such as rats, feral cats, feral pigs and the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus).


Habitat loss and fragmentation are also a potential threat as the Fijian copper-headed skink is a forest or woodland species. The mongoose has been attributed to the elimination of the lowland populations on Viti Levu.

Conservation Status

Coastal populations of this species are largely extinct. This species was very common in the now logged forest of the Nausori Highlands in Viti Levu. Whether this species still occurs there or not will need to be ascertained. More work needs to be conducted on this species, as it is probably one of Fiji’s endangered reptiles. To confirm this, a survey of the status of this species on all the islands is the most obvious first step.

This species is not protected under any current legislation.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

Coastal populations of this species are largely extinct. This species was very common in the now logged forest of the Nausori Highlands in Viti Levu. Whether this species still occurs there or not will need to be ascertained. More work needs to be conducted on this species, as it is probably one of Fiji’s endangered reptiles. To confirm this, a survey of the status of this species on all the islands is the most obvious first step.

This species is not protected under any current legislation.

References

Morrison 2003;

Ryan 2000;

Zug 1985; 1991.
Most Viewed Reptiles
Endangered Species Compendium
Latest Project
Taveuni National Park Project
Located in the Province of Cakaudrove, the island of Taveuni is Fiji’s 3rd largest island. Since the 1980s, the National Trust and the Fiji Department of Forests have been advocating for the merger of the Ravilevu Nature Reserve, Taveuni Forest Reserve and the Bouma National Heritage Park to form the Taveuni National Park. In 1993 the Fiji Department of Environment proposed the ‘Integrated Development Plan for Taveuni’ supporting this combination to better promote the wilderness and cultural features of Taveuni to harness Taveuni’s tourism market to its full potential. The Fiji Department of Forests, National Protected Areas Committee, Cakaudrove Provincial Council and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, with support from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund are revitalising efforts to bring Taveuni's three current protected areas into one Taveuni National Park: 1. Taveuni Forest Reserve (FR). Declared in 1914. Size: 11, 160 HA 2. Ravilevu Nature Reserve (NR). Declared in 1959. Size: 4, 108 HA 3. Bouma National Heritage Park (BNHP). Established by covenant in 1990. 1, 417 HA. TAVEUNI’S WILDLIFE AND LANDSCAPE Much of Fiji’s land and forest has now been impacted and modified by deforestation, commercial and subsistence agriculture, plantation timber production and/or invasive alien species. We must also remember the historic impacts of the first human settlement that resulted, for example, in the extinction of many species and conversion of dry forests to grasslands. Not only has Taveuni retained significant forest and wetland ecosystems across a full altitudinal range (ridge to reef), but also it has not been severely impacted by invasive species, in particular the mongoose. The absence of the mongoose from Fiji’s third largest island has resulted in the retention not only of Taveuni’s endemic fauna species but also Fijian endemics that have been extirpated or are highly threatened on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. SPECIAL LANDSCAPES ON TAVEUNI Taveuni’s outstanding landscape qualities are derived mainly from its tropical forest cover. From all points around the Taveuni coastline, there are views of the undisturbed, densely forested uplands. Frequently cloud and mist-capped, the rugged central range dominates the landscape with characteristic emergent volcanic cones. From the peaks of the central range descend the long symmetry of old lava flows covered with dense rainforest. Taveuni is one of the very few islands where the scale of negative land use impacts has been limited. But current trends of widespread soil degradation and encroachment into the reserves indeicate taht this is changing for the worse. The thriving agricultural industry of Taveuni can attribute its success to the Taveuni Forest Reserve which was established to ensure unlimited water supply and free ecosystem services to the people of Taveuni. While the Taveuni FR currently provides little monetary benefit to landowners, combined with the Ravilevu NR and Bouma National Heritage Park, the Taveuni National Park will build a strong imperative for ecotourism development. THE PROJECT Not until 2009 were landowners informed about plans which had been around for 30 years on possible Protected Areas development, and the potential of Taveuni's forests for conservation. If there is one conspicuous lesson of the lead up work of the Sovi Basin Protected Area project, it was that there was no real progress until the landowners and the Fijian administration took up ownership of the process. Getting the landowners involved in the PA discussions is the main objective of this project.
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NFMV January 2014 Newsletter - #17
Good news to start the year, NFMV receives a grant to protect our logo - the rare forest conifer - Acmopyle sahniana