One of the four hikers who reportedly found the corpse of the coconut rhinoceros beetle with a detached head on Aguiguan Island said they had permission to be on the island.
Sophia Perez reached out to Saipan Tribune to clarify that their group, which included Vladislav Melnik, Analee Villagomez, and one more female hiker whose handwriting was undecipherable, had received approval to enter Aguiguan on Sept. 26, 2019, with Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan’s signature.
Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony Benavente earlier said that Perez and her group did not have permission to enter Aguiguan, citing information from the Tinian mayor.
The interview with Benavente was held Friday afternoon. Immediately after, Saipan Tribune reached out to the Tinian mayor for verification but calls to his personal number weren’t connecting at the time.
Perez and her group, according to Benavente, found the corpse of a coconut rhino beetle on Aguiguan, also known as the Goat Island, with its head detached. The hiker’s group reported the matter to DLNR and turned over the specimen.
Benavente noted that Aldan called DLNR to organize a trip to Aguiguan. The group, which would be composed of individuals trained in quarantining coconut rhinoceros beetles, would set for the island sometime this week, Benavente said.
Benavente said a Saipan and Tinian team would be going toward the hiking group’s resting spot on the island where the specimen was found and was specifically pinpointed by the group to see if there are live specimens in the area, since the one the group earlier found was already dead.
Coconut rhinoceros beetles breed on a coconut’s upper cone, killing the tree in the process. A female coconut rhino beetle can lay as much as 50 eggs. They are considered pests.