The island-nation of Fiji in the Pacific Ocean simply offers a ton of unique tourist attractions. It is home to hundreds of world-class luxury resorts built along the most inviting beaches in the world. This archipelago of 322 islands is blessed with natural wonders, white-sand beaches, rich coral reefs and natural parks. The Kula Eco Park is a top tourist destination in Fiji, a home for a number of endangered species that are endemic to the Pacific.
Located in the southern side of Viti Levu’s Coral Coast, the park is a coastal forest about a thousand meters from the ocean. The park has a unique history. In the 1980s, a bird park was established in the area and featured a number of bird species. Sadly, however, the park didn’t last long since not many people went to see it. The owner called it quits and decided to simply abandon the park and all the birds inside. In 1996, the park was “discovered” and it was found out that the birds were either dead or dying. They were not fed and cared for in years. In 1997, the Kula Eco Park management saved the park and all the resident birds. Today, the bird and plant sanctuary is a well-known park all over the Pacific area. It is recognized by the National Trust for Fiji, Endangered Species Recovery Council of San Diego (California, USA), The Parks Board of New South Wales (Australia), Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria, and Royal Zoological Society of South Australia. It has received the Excellence in Tourism Award as one of the best tourist attractions in Fiji several times.
Kula Eco Park is home to a number of amazing exotic birds, reptiles and insects, some of which were recently discovered to exist in the Fijian Islands. For example, the Fiji Flying Fox, the only mammal endemic to Fiji, was only discovered in 1977 in the island of Taveuni; two years later, someone discovered the Fiji Crested Iguana in remote Yadutaba Island; and recently in 2003, a representative from Bird Life International rediscovered the tiny Long-legged Warbler Trichocichla bird, which was thought to have been extinct since 1894.
Meanwhile, Fiji’s rich fauna is also in danger of having some of its rare plant species totally wiped out by modern development, pollution and deforestation. A number of Fijian mangroves and forests are now overly polluted. Urbanization truly has its ugly consequences, which is why the Kula Eco Park is doing its best to preserve the Fijian plant life by housing them and conducting research.
The beautiful and colorful Fijian plants and flowers are both fragrant and useful. For example, the dawa tree is important not only to the environment and people of Fiji, but also to Science. Belonging to the Sapinaceae family, the giant dawa tree serves several purposes, including medicinal and nutritional uses. Boiled dawa leaves are said to cure dysentery and diarrhea, while leaf extracts are used to dye gray hairs. The glutinous ripe dawa fruit is delicious and nutritious as honey, while the bark is believed to have contraceptive properties and could cure arthritis. The dawa tree is truly a wonder tree, and it is one of the many important Fiji plants being protected within the park.
In 1998, study conducted by Kula Eco Park in cooperation with the Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales, Zoo Friends of Taronga Zoo and the National Trust for Fiji recorded and documented over 140 plant species that continue o thrive in the islands of Fiji.