Thailand bans iguana imports to curb population surge and agricultural damage

BANGKOK, Nov 21: Thailand has imposed a ban on the import of all iguana species in an effort to control the surge in the reptile population, which has been damaging agricultural crops and causing problems for residents.    

Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke expressed concern about the escalating presence of invasive iguanas in the wild, causing distress to farmers in affected regions.

“Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has banned the importation of all iguana species belonging to the Iguanidae family, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) into Thailand, effective November 17 and until further notice,” he said in a statement today.

Chai mentioned that a total of 244 individuals in Thailand have reported owning 3,419 iguanas to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, with Chonburi having the highest number of reported iguanas at 982.

“If the situation is brought under control, the ministry may consider lifting the ban,” he added.

Last week, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation reported a surge in the number of green iguanas in Lopburi province.

In response to a recent surge in green iguanas in Lopburi province, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation noted that these iguanas belong to non-native species not naturally found in Thailand.

The department reiterated that the unauthorised release of these reptiles into the wild is a serious offence punishable by up to six months in jail, a 50,000 baht fine, or both, as stipulated in the Wild Animal Conservation and Protection Act of 2019.