Govt introduces ban on iguana imports as numbers soar
The import of iguanas, a popular pet reptile, has been banned following their rapid increase in the wild, threatening local crops and plants.
Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke said on Tuesday that the ban was announced in the latest amendment to the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment’s regulation on animals permitted for import.
The amendment, dated November 17, stipulates that the import of all reptiles in the iguanidae family, a category 1 protected animal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is illegal in Thailand until further notice.
The ban came after the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation last week reported a surge in the number of green iguanas in the Khao Phra Ya Dern Thong community in Phatthana Nikhom district of Lopburi province.
The reptiles have been damaging crops and plants, posing challenges to residents in cultivating vegetables and sustaining their families.
The department warned the public not to touch iguanas or their faeces, which could be contaminated with the salmonella bacteria that causes diarrhoea.
The department also warned that the unauthorised release of these reptiles into the wild is punishable by up to six months in jail or a 50,000 baht fine, or both, under the Wild Animal Conservation and Protection Act of 2019.
To date, 244 persons have registered a total of 3,419 iguanas they own with the department, with Chonburi province having the biggest registered iguana population at 982.
Chai said on Tuesday that the ministry may consider lifting the ban if the iguana situation in Thailand is under control.