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Iguana invasion: Thailand rounds up rogue reptiles

AFP -Thailand captured more than 150 rogue iguanas that were rampaging through the countryside, raiding farms and damaging the local environment, officials said.

The lizards are not native to the kingdom, hailing originally from Central and South America, but are increasingly popular as pets in Thailand.

Environmental concerns have been raised over the activities of the herbivorous lacertilians, which are thought to be pets that have either escaped or been deliberately released into the wild.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) said 134 iguanas had been captured in Pattana Nikom district, Lopburi, around 160 kilometres north of Bangkok.

A screenshot of a handout video taken by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) shows captured iguanas at a wildlife sanctuary in Nakhon Nayok province. PHOTO: AFP

A further six were discovered in Udon Thani, in the country’s northeast, and 23 more elsewhere in Thailand.

“Many iguanas have been living in the wild in Lopburi province and destroying farmers’ agricultural produce,” a DNP statement said.

“The rapidly increasing number has affected the environment and ecology systems, causing problems to local people.”

The cold-blooded captives – which can grow to more than 1.5 metres long – will be kept at wildlife centres including one in Nakhon Nayok, northeast of Bangkok.

The department also said around 260 people across 61 provinces have informed officials that they own iguanas – more than 3,600 lizards in total.

Earlier in the week, officials banned the import of the scaly creatures over environmental concerns.

Authorities said violators will face a maximum of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to TKB1 million.