One of the Fiji’s important cave systems in Sigatoka will be an eco-tourism site following its official opening by Attorney-General and Minister for Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday.
The Volivoli caves will welcome international and local visitors after years of scientific and educational research.
University of the South Pacific senior lecturer in physical geography, Dr Mark Stephens said the cave system had been the site where some animal fossils were found, fossils that no longer exist in the world,” Dr Stephens said.
“We can find a number of animal fossils like a species of crocodile that once roamed the cave system and skeletal frames of large toads and the Fijian iguana.
“For years the Volivoli caves have been used as an educational tool for geography and archaeology students from USP.
“But now the owners of the caves from Yadua Village have agreed to go into eco-tourism and use it as a source of income for their village.”
He said Volivoli was the most important fossil site in Fiji and while it was a good venture by the landowners to allow visitors to explore the caves, it was also important to preserve its archaeological importance.
“We have done quite a bit of work to preserve the things that are inside the system and we hope that it will help preserve its history.
“It was first discovered in 1996 and since then we have been working to preserve the site generously funded by the Faculty of Science at USP.”
NatureFiji-MareqetiViti director Nunia Thomas said the cave system was a significant archaeological site.
“It is where they found the now extinct crocodile, the now extinct mega boto-ni-viti, so it’s quite an important historical and archaeological site,” she said.
“We are particularly happy that all of the stakeholders involved in this particular project have taken the time to figure out a way to make use of it to boost the economy of the neighbouring community and at the same time preserving the site.”
She said the Volivoli Cave eco-tourism venture was a great way to promote the cave system and to draw more people to the community.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was a fantastic undertaking that needed to be preserved.
However, he also stressed the need for its preservation.
“From a tourism perspective, millions of people will travel the world all over to see these types of caves and it is important that we capitalise on that.”