Nature Ramble on Sunday warned of illegal pets, or transporting species from one part of the planet to another.
Here’s another issue that runs parallel to keeping turles and other unusal pets.
Hewlett-Packard ad featuring runaway iguana ‘poses threat to native wildlife’
Invasive Species Council asks company to pull ad, saying ‘Ralph the iguana’ could encourage Australians to buy the illegal pet
Hewlett-Packard’s Australian advertisement features a boy whose pet iguana is on the loose.
Hewlett-Packard has been criticised for featuring a runaway iguana in its Australian advertising, as the animal is considered an environmental threat and is illegal to own as a pet.
The Invasive Species Council has said the use of “Ralph the iguana” in HP’s marketing campaign would encourage Australians to obtain iguanas as pets, only for them to be released into the wild, where they could cause significant damage to native flora and fauna.
The HP campaign is an online effort involving the tagline #HelpFindRalph. People can look at pictures of Ralph to guess his location in order to win various HP products.
So far, Ralph has been photographed alongside camels on the beach in Broome, looking sanguine in a South Australian vineyard and looming in front of Sydney town hall. The green iguana has also been shown at the Twelve Apostles in Victoria and the Whitsunday islands in Queensland.
“We don’t want to create a new demand for this species and for people to buy them on the black market,” Andrew Cox, chief executive of the Invasive Species Council, told Guardian Australia. “These things can grow up to two metres long and then people will dump them, which causes a major threat to northern Australia.
“Hewlett-Packard should have known better. They should have done their homework. They now need to make people aware that it’s illegal to have iguanas in Australia and that they are a threat to the environment here.”
Green iguanas, which can weigh up to 9kg, are considered a pest because of their broad diet, which may include native plants, animals and bird eggs. Their burrows can also disturb the environment.
A Queensland government analysis has warned the animals are considered “high-risk” to the natural environment and are prone to spread in that state because the climate is comparable to that of their native central America.
Although they are often kept as pets, the Queensland government warns: “Adult iguanas are large, powerful animals. When threatened they can bite, cause severe scratch wounds and deliver a painful slap with their tail.”
It is illegal to import iguanas or keep them as pets but 17 animals have been seized by authorities since 1999.
“We can only guess how many are in Australia, probably hundreds,” Cox said. “We don’t want that number to increase because once they are established, it’s a hard creature to dislodge. They can camouflage themselves in the wild, after all.”
The Invasive Species Council, which recently warned of an influx of pest species into Australia, has written to HP asking the company to scrap the advertising campaign and apologise.
But an HP spokeswoman told Guardian Australia it had no plans to alter the ads and that Ralph would continue appearing next to Australian landmarks.
I realise that Ralph is an invasive species and therefore a concern, but I wonder is this making a mountain out of a molehill?
Ralph makes an endearing ambassador for HP and understandably so.
Perhaps HP should have been a little more astute in their campaign and added an educational factor into the ad, therefore actually helping the powers that be.
But there is also the responsibility of parents in educating their kids about such issues and the matter should also be dealt with in schools.