Kadavu is a priority for Conservation International. Four species of bird occur there and nowhere else in the world. However, little is known of Kadavu’s bryophytes, lichens, and ferns, and it was our job to find out.
While on Kadavu, Ratu Kaminieli Nabalarua (“Tuka”) looked after us very well, taking us to botanically interesting places and keeping us culturally in line (including monitoring our kava intake).
We did some collecting around the capital Vunisea in the middle of the island, but our focus was the Delainabukelevu (or Nabukelevu or Mount Washington) volcano at the western tip of Kadavu.
Delainabukelevu is just over 800 metres high. Its summit is often shrouded, producing wet and shaded cloud-forest habitat ideal for bryophytes and ferns! We spent a day climbing up and down the steep sides, with a few hours collecting at and around the summit. These collections will take some time to process, but they appeared very interesting.
We were kindly and warmly accommodated for two nights/three days by the nearby village of Nabukelevu-ira. Not only did they feed us extremely well, we were entertained by song and traditional dance, and we watched the All Blacks dispatch the Tongans at the Rugby World Cup! (Kadavu is known within Fiji as ‘little New Zealand’, I think because of the black uniforms used during sporting events, but not all of the locals were backing the All Blacks.)
Kadavu is famous for its kava, and generous partaking in this social ritual was entailed, particularly for the younger, male members of our group.