Recently I was lucky enough to enjoy a family holiday to the tropical paradise of Fiji, where we stayed at a beautiful beachfront resort on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu island.
As an animal lover I am always drawn to and interested in seeing and being around animals, wherever I am. As a first time visitor to Fiji I was very excited to see the local pets and animals and find out a bit about them. Within only minutes of being in the car in Fiji I was shocked to see a cow in the middle of the road, just as we drove out of the town. The surprise was obviously evident on my face as our driver had a little chuckle and preceded to tell me that it was quite normal to have animals and livestock on the roads. As we continued on our one and a half hour drive to the resort it became quite clear that yes in fact it was quite normal for animals to be on the road, crossing the road or on the side of the road. During the journey we passed a lot of cattle and horses, some of them were tethered to trees or posts but many were just walking freely. At one stage we came around a corner and right in the middle of the road there was a donkey, just standing there. The driver had to stop and wait for the donkey to leisurely stroll off the road and then we could pass. There were also a number of stray dogs wandering the roads. The driver informed me that the locals don’t worry about the stray dogs as they don’t cause too many problems. What I found most remarkable was the respect and patience that the drivers seemed to have for all the wandering animals. Drivers slowed down or waited, even without beeping their horns, for the animals to move and I didn’t see any dead or injured animals on the road.
After speaking to many of the locals about animals, I found out that most households have at least one cat, a dog and if they have enough room they will also have a milking cow. They told me that they keep the cats to keep rodent numbers under control and dogs for protection and scaring burglars. They all seemed very fond of their pets and loved and cared for them as best as they could.
While speaking to a local Fijian Hindu I was also told an interesting Hindu belief. They believe that if a tick is found on a dog it means that bad luck is coming their way and the family needs to be alert and take care. They remove the tick and immediately take the dog to the local animal hospital for treatment. They nurse the dog back to good health while being watchful for any bad luck.
One of the best things we did while in Fiji was visiting the Kula Eco Park. The park is situated in a beautiful rain-forest where we walked along a boardwalk and rope bridges, over the streams and through the trees. They have a variety of different bird species in the park, some that are native to Fiji and some that are also found in Australia or around the world. The cages and open aviaries are beautifully set up and we loved strolling through them and spotting all the magnificent birds. The highlight of the park, and maybe even our holiday, was seeing and holding some Iguanas. They were adorable. I was quite surprised that I liked them so much, as I do tend to be a bit freaked out by snakes, but I loved them. They actually seemed quite affectionate and calm and were happy to sit on our heads or shoulders. At the park they also have a number of breeding programs set up, especially for Iguanas, to help increase the population as numbers in the wild have been declining.
While staying on the coral coast we had to go out snorkeling. It was beautiful. The coral was lovely, probably not as colourful as the coral I have seen at the Great Barrier Reef, but the fish were amazing. There were so many different species and the most brightly coloured fish I have ever seen. We also saw a moray eel, starfish and some other people even saw a huge octopus.
Overall our Fiji holiday was a great experience for my whole family, and the animals that we saw during our trip were definitely the highlight.
Until next time,